BJP asks PM, Sonia to clarify their stand

New Delhi: The BJP today felicitated its "whistleblowers" in the cash-for-vote scam to highlight the corruption issue and demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi clarify their stand on the matter.

BJP President Nitin Gadkari and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj felicitated Ashok Argal, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora, along with L K Advani`s former aide Sudheendra Kulkarni and party worker Suhail Hindustani.

They had acted as "whistleblowers" in the July 2008 cash-for-vote scam by participating in a sting operation in which bribe was allegedly offered to Argal, Kulaste and Bhagora, who were sitting MPs, to buy their support in the Trust Vote.

Speaking at the programme, Gadkari said injustice had been done to these five people as they were incarcerated for days for no fault.
"The Delhi High Court has said that it could not find any prima facie evidence against them…These people were in jail even during Diwali…Why were they kept in jail? This is not somebody`s fiefdom," Gadkari said.

He attacked the Prime Minister and the UPA chairperson on the cash-for-vote scam."19 MPs were bought and sold. Can such a Prime Minister be called honest? Can Sonia Gandhi clarify if this was done with her permission or not?" Gadkari asked.

Congress, however, challenged this contention with party spokesperson Rashid Alvi taunting the BJP saying, "The opposition party will welcome even B S Yeddyurappa who was in jail over corruption cases."

Asked to comment on BJP contention that they were whistleblowers, Alvi said, "The matter is pending with the court and the court will decide who is wrong and who is right."

The BJP whistleblowers will participate in Advani`s rally here tomorrow which marks the culmination of his yatra on good governance and clean politics.

At the function here on Saturday, Swaraj said, after the whistleblowers were arrested, Advani was highly disturbed and decided to take out this yatra.
Alleging that Congress was involved in the cash-for-vote scam and was a beneficiary of the same, Gadkari said the ruling party`s stand on the issue was a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

"Such a Prime Minister cannot be called honest. He should clarify whether it was carried out with his permission," Gadkari said.

BJP announced that it will take up the issue of corruption both inside Parliament in the forthcoming session as well as on the streets through protests and demonstrations.

"After what the courts have observed in this case, I hope both the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi will apologise to the nation," Gadkari said.

He maintained that BJP is proud of what the whistleblowers had done.

Swaraj said the two leaders and Hindustani were in jail for 72 days while Kulkarni had to spend 52 days in Tihar.

"Their bail is just a stop and not the final destination. We will not rest till we reach our goal… The honour being bestowed on these leaders should have been done by the government on the day they exposed the corruption," Swaraj said.

Gadkari also declared that if the NDA comes to power, "it would lodge an FIR and put the culprits of the scam in jail".

He also hit out at Delhi Police and bureaucracy for "bending before the government" on corruption issues.

"Those in the bureaucracy should not do anything wrong to please their political masters. If there is a regime change, they will have to pay for this," Gadkari said.

Swaraj said the Delhi Police, which is investigating the cash-for-vote scam case, arrested the whistleblowers on the charge of conspiracy and former SP leader Amar Singh on the charge of paying bribes to buy support of MPs.

"How are both the things (conspiracy and bribery) possible at the same time?" she asked. She maintained that when the opposition confronted the Prime Minister on the issue, he merely read out a "three-line reply" saying we have nothing to do with this.

Swaraj claimed that under the laws of criminal jurisprudence, the beneficiary of the crime has to probed and here the Congress government was the beneficiary.

BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said Delhi Police had acted in a "highly condemnable" manner in this case.

He said the government should have actually given Padma awards to the whistleblowers as they had performed a "heroic act" in saving democracy and Parliament.

"The cash-for-vote scam is an insult to the parliamentary system and to democracy," Naidu said, alleging that the government which was earlier misusing the CBI is now misusing Delhi Police.