Parliament adjourned over trust vote expose

New Delhi: A united opposition on Thursday demanded resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in connection with allegations of bribing members to win the 2008 trust vote forcing adjournment of both Houses of Parliament.

As soon as the Lok Sabha met, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta raised the issue of alleged bribing of members by the government to win the trust vote on the India-U.S. nuclear deal and cited news reports quoting leaked diplomatic cables.

“Never in the history of Indian democracy has such a news appeared in newspapers… money was paid to members …this is murder of democracy,” Mr. Dasgupta said.

“If the Prime Minister does not deny this he should resign immediately,” he said.

Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said the newspaper expose has shamed Indian democracy.

Certain matters that took place right under the nose of a “so-called honest Prime Minister” have come to light, she said.

Ms. Swaraj said three BJP members had brought cash to the House in 2008 but the then Speaker had ordered an inquiry against them instead of taking cognisance of the matter.

“An official of the American Embassy was shown a chest full of cash. Is this a display of the bullying tactics of the government or its shamelessness,” Ms. Swaraj said amid shouts from Congress members.

“This government has lost the moral authority to continue in office and the Prime Minister should resign immediately,” she said.

SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav asked the Speaker to allow a discussion on the matter saying his party had also played a key role in saving the UPA-I government.

“We had also worked to save the government in 2008. If all are painted by the same brush, we also stand to lose face. Only a discussion on this matter can clear our name,” Mr. Yadav said.

At this point, members from both the opposition and ruling benches were on their feet raising slogans and prompting the Speaker to adjourn the proceedings till noon.

As soon as Rajya Sabha met, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley raised the issue saying, “It is conclusively clear that this government survived on political and moral sin.”

“A government which survived on such a political sin has no authority to even to continue for one minute. We demand this government must resign immediately,” he said, amid shouts of ‘shame, shame’ from BJP benches.

Frequently interrupted by Congress members, Mr. Jaitley said the expose reflected the “extraordinary depressing situation how our democracy has been reduced…. The leak completely establishes the worst that we had feared at that time (2008).”

Quoting from The Hindu, which published the cables sent by U.S. Embassy officials to Washington on the 2008 trust vote, he said that an important political functionary had shown war chests to be used for winning the vote of confidence after the Left had withdrawn its support to the UPA-I on the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal.

“Are the facts so embarrassing that the ruling party is disturbing the House?” Mr. Jaitley asked when Congress members were on their feet to counter the opposition.

Leaders of all major parties including CPI-M, CPI, JD(U) and BJD joined Mr. Jaitley in demanding the resignation of the government forthwith. They also demanded Prime Minister to come and explain.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who wanted to respond, was not allowed by BJP members and Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan said “this is not fair” on the part of BJP members, who trooped into the well and started shouting slogans.

Sitaram Yechury (CPI(M)) said that criminal investigation should be launched against those involved in the cash for vote scam to save the government in 2008.

He said though the findings of a Parliamentary committee that went into the issue were not made public, the panel is believed to have suggested criminal investigation.

The expose brought to light “humongous and gross” degeneration of political system and reflected cross opportunism through which the government survived, he said.

Mr. Yechury said the allegations were dangerous and showed links of individuals to the Gandhi family.

When Congress member Rajiv Shukla doubted the authenticity of the cables, the CPI—M said, “I dare you prove them wrong.”

D Raja (CPI) said when the Left withdrew support on the nuclear deal, money power along with external power, played a “dirty game“.

He said it was proper for the Prime Minister to come and explain. “Government has lost its moral authority and continue to rule this country,” he added.

Pyarimohan Mohapatra (BJD) said this government is functioning on a “cash and carry basis“.

Manohar Joshi (Shiv Sena) said the government has no right to remain in the chair and the Prime Minister must come to the House and explain “if he is honest enough“.

N K Singh (JD—U) said the issue has moral and ethical culpability and the Prime Minister, who is also Leader of the House, has an obligation to clarify.

A Elavarasan (AIADMK) also raised the issue suggesting that money was distributed by DMK leader M K Alagiri for votes in Tamil Nadu.

The united opposition forced Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan to adjourn the House twice before 1400 hours.