Parliament stalled as Govt dodges WikiLeaks expose
The 2008 'cash-for-votes' scam today returned to haunt the UPA with a united Opposition in Parliament demanding resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in view of fresh charges that bribe was paid during the trust vote but the government was dismissive. Can't confirm or deny: Pranab | Read WikiLeaks India cabledelhi Updated: Mar 17, 2011 15:59 IST
The 2008 'cash-for-votes' scam today returned to haunt the UPA with a united Opposition in Parliament demanding resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in view of fresh charges that bribe was paid during the trust vote but the government was dismissive.
Citing correspondence between the US Embassy and its government revealed by the Wikileaks, the Opposition parties created uproar in both Houses of Parliament, saying the appearance of the media reports had "shamed" the country and it showed the "murder of democracy".
Responding to the attack, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was dismissive, saying the charges pertained to the 14th Lok Sabha and could not be discussed in the current one.
Mukherjee asserted in the Rajya Sabha that the cables cited by the Wikileaks website were correspondence between a sovereign government and its mission abroad and that he could not confirm or deny the allegations.
"Each Lok Sabha is sovereign in its time. What happened in the 14th Lok Sabha cannot be decided in the 15th Lok Sabha... Government of the day is accountable to the 15th Lok Sabha and not to the 14th Lok Sabha. Whatever happened in the 14th Lok Sabha has come to an end" with the end of the tenure, he said.
He also asked whether Jaitley was satisfied that "whatever has appeared in newspaper report is admissible in the court of law."
The communication between the US Embassy and its government enjoys diplomatic immunity and "it is not possible for the government to either confirm it or deny it," Mukherjee said amid din.
Seeking clarification on Mukherjee's statement, Jaitley said, "If what has appeared (in the newspaper) is correct, it is a commission of offence in India."
He said the diplomatic immunity may be available to the US diplomats but the same cannot be claimed for offences like "bribery" committed by Indians in the country.
Jaitley also disagreed with Mukherjee's contention on the issue of accountability of then government (UPA-1) to the present Lok Sabha. "All these factors do not apply when the offence was committed outside the House," he said.
"You are guilty of cover," the BJP leader alleged, prompting a sharp reaction from Mukherjee, who retorted, "If you have the courage, go to court."
Soon after, the House was adjourned till 2 PM in view of the uproar.
Earlier, Jaitley raised the issue when the House met, saying "It is conclusively clear that this government survived on political and moral sin."
Amid shouts of 'shame, shame' from BJP benches, he said, "A government which survived on such a political sin has no authority to even continue for one minute. We demand this government must resign immediately."