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Bitter memories of 2008

delhi Updated: Mar 19, 2011 23:34 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times
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If there is one reason why the trust vote of 2008 still rankles the BJP, it is because the party was the hardest hit by floor crossings that saw PM Manmohan Singh sail through after the Left withdrew support.

The party's inability to keep its flock together damaged its standing as a major political party ahead of the 2009 polls.

"But for cross-voting and abstentions, the UPA won't have won..." Advani had cried then.

The party had to expel 8 MPs.

WikiLeaks' latest expose brought back those memories, say BJP leaders.

The cash-for-vote episode has come three years after the infamous cash-for-query scam.

In December 2005, Parliament expelled 11 members after a TV sting showed them taking cash for putting up questions in Parliament. Of them, six were from the BJP.

The BJP had then argued the matter should be referred to the Privileges Committee, saying that while the MPs should be punished, removing them was unjustified.

But the PM had said, "At no cost should we allow Parliament's image to be tarnished."

In the same month, another TV channel exposed corruption among MPs in selecting the projects for Local Area Development Scheme. Two of them were from BJP.

So when the BJP got a whiff of floor managers of the UPA scouting for support among its MPs for the trust vote in July 2008, many BJP MPs came under watch.

One day before the July 22 vote, SP general secretary Amar Singh had "displayed" BJP MP Brij Bhushan Saran Singh as the first of the MPs who would switch sides.

That prompted Arun Jaitley, BJP general secretary then, and his aides to get in touch with a TV news channel for a sting to show how their MPs were being lured.

A day before the trust vote, BJP leaders realised money would be given by a man from Amar Singh's house to Ashok Argyal, one of the targeted three BJP MPs, at his home, they let the TV channel wire the place.

Though the TV channel did not screen the footage, the three MPs reached Parliament with the money. Despite this, the UPA won the vote.

Five days later, Advani wrote to then Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to make public the video tapes of the sting by CNN-IBN.

The Kishore Chandra Deo parliamentary panel, probing the "cash-for-votes" episode gave a clean chit to those alleged to have tried to bribe opposition MPs.