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Pankaj Vohra, Hindustan Times
December 16, 2008
Like the terror card in the Assembly polls, the votes for cash scam in Parliament also appears to have boomeranged on the BJP. The seven member committee headed by V Krishna Chandra Singh Deo has not only given a clean chit to those alleged to have tried to bribe opposition MPs into voting in favour of the ruling UPA — Samajwadi Party leaders Amar Singh and Reoti Raman Singh, and the Congress president’s political secretary Ahmed Patel — but has also recommended that an appropriate agency probe the roles of LK Advani aide Sudheendra Kulkarni and ‘volunteer’ Suhail Hindustani, who claimed to have been whistleblowers, as well as that of Sanjeev Saxena, an aide of Amar Singh.

The three BJP MPs—Ashok Argal, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora—were summoned by the Privileges Committee on Monday to determine whether their act of displaying wads of cash on the floor of the House on July 22 constituted a breach of privilege since they did so without the Chair’s permission. The final view on this, as well as on the 466-page report submitted by the Deo committee, will be taken by the Speaker.

It is very evident that the BJP wanted to use the cash for vote scam to discredit the government after realising that some of its MPs and those of its allies were going to vote in favour of the UPA government. If the NDA had managed to keep its flock together, the chances of the government falling would have been very high. The BJP obviously wanted to drive home the point that “the defections had been engineered by paying money’’.

“Under the circumstances, the committee has reached the right conclusion,” said constitutional expert and Congress ideologue Devendra Dwivedi “The matter required criminal investigations and establishing anyone’s involvement was obviously not possible. A probe by a competent agency can lead to the truth.”

Whether the Speaker orders one remains to be seen. And what happens to the cash displayed in the House — a substantial sum of Rs. 1 crore, currently in the custody of the Secretary General? Will the income tax authorities get involved in the probe too?