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Left, BJP unite to corner government in Parliament

A united opposition today mounted attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the cash-for-votes scam wondering as to how he could wash his hands of the matter as he had headed the government in 2008 and was the "biggest beneficiary" of the trust vote.

delhi Updated: Mar 23, 2011 17:10 IST

A united opposition on Wednesday mounted attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the cash-for-votes scam wondering as to how he could wash his hands of the matter as he had headed the government in 2008 and was the "biggest beneficiary" of the trust vote.

Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj made a stinging attack on Singh in the Lok Sabha telling him that as head of
the government he should take responsibility instead of making others scapegoat for the omissions and commissions of his regime.

"It is the habit of the Prime Minister to blame others. If it is price rise then (Agriculture Minister) Sharad Pawar
is responsible, if it is 2G then (former Telecom Minister) A Raja is responsible and if it is Commonwealth Games then
(Suresh) Kalmadi is to blame," she said.

"'I don't know anything, I am not aware of anything, there are coalition compulsions and I am not that much guilty as I
am made out to be' ...the people are fed up with such excuses.

They are asking why you are the Prime Minister," she said participating in a discussion. "The issue involves your leadership," she said, quoting an Urdu couplet which means one should not make any excuse but tell how the caravan got looted. The Prime Minister was present in the House and was listening intently to the debate.

Earlier, initiating the discussion on the Prime Minister's statement on the Wikileak's expose in connection with the
cash-for-votes scam, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta accused Singh of resorting to "parliamentary piracy" to win the vote of confidence in 2008 and demanded that he come clean.

He said the report of a Parliamentary panel on the scam had clearly recommended "investigation by an appropriate agency" into the alleged attempts to purchase votes to win the trust vote on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

"It's a case of parliamentary piracy because some members were hijacked. The suspicion is that organised group of political gangsters were at work," he said.

Dasgupta's remarks terming the alleged scam as an act of "parliamentary piracy" and the handiwork of "organised groups of political gangsters" drew an angry retort from the ruling benches.

As the CPI leader demanded a probe in to largescale absenteeism in the opposition benches during the trust vote,
ruling members, including Congress member Raj Babbar, were on their feet protesting the reference.

Taking objection to Prime Minister's remarks that the UPA had returned to power even after the alleged scam, Dasgupta said "electoral verdict cannot condone criminality if it has been perpetrated."

He said the Congress had polled only 25 per cent votes in the General Elections but did not want to draw any conclusion from it. "I make no conclusion. I do not say it is a minority government," he said.

However, this contention by the Prime Minister gives credence to the 'might is right' theory. "Might is right is a dangerous proposition that does not fit-in in a democracy," he said.

Last week, the Prime Minister had hit out at the opposition for giving "dignity" to an "unverified communication", and pointed out that the Congress had won the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and that the tally of the Opposition parties had reduced considerably.

Despatches by American diplomats, leaked by WikiLeaks and published in a national daily, purportedly claim that payoffs had been made to MPs to ensure a majority for the Congress-led government in the confidence vote following differences over the India-US nuclear deal in 2008.

As per the cables, a US diplomat was told Rs 50-60 crore was kept aside by the Congress party to get some opposition members of the Lok Sabha on board before the trust vote in July 2008 during the first tenure of the UPA government.

"I concede that the PM was precise in his statement and the statement was cogent. PM was very prompt in throwing the
ball in the court of the Opposition, his tone was very firm, normally he is not. He was firm in rejecting the complaints on
cash-for-votes during the last no confidence motion," said Dasgupta.

The CPI leader said linguistic fervour was used to conceal the facts. "Strong is the language of the weak and persuasive
is the language of the strong," he said.