Ahead of Tuesday's crucial trust vote in the Lok Sabha that will decide the fate of the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, the reported bribe rate to buy the support of Members of Parliament (MPs) seems to be shooting up with every passing hour - going by the various claims being made.
Rebel Congress MP from Haryana's Bhiwani Lok Sabha seat, Kuldeep Bishnoi, who is under suspension from the party for over a year, has claimed that he has been offered a Rs 1 billion (Rs 100 crore) bribe to either vote for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) or abstain in the trust vote.
Bishnoi, son of former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal, made the claim at a rally in Rohtak district in Haryana Saturday.
The young MP, who has been openly critical of the Congress leadership and its president Sonia Gandhi ever since his father was overlooked by the party for the post of chief minister of Haryana in March 2005 despite having led the party to a thumping win in the assembly polls, has made it clear that he would vote against the UPA government.
"I have been offered a Rs.100 crore bribe to vote for the UPA. But I have to face the people. Even if they offer to make me the chief minister (of Haryana), I will not accept," Bishnoi told the rally.
He did not say who had offered him such an unheard of inducement. Bishnoi's claim of the bribe amount is nearly four times of the earlier going rate of bribes quoted as being offered to MPs to vote for or against the UPA by the various parties involved in the current horse-trading for votes.
The ball was set rolling by Communist Party of India (CPI) leader AB Bardhan who claimed last week that MPs were being offered Rs 25 crores (Rs 250 million) each to vote for the government.
Samajwadi Party leader and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav followed it up by claiming that one of his party MPs was offered Rs 30 crores (Rs 300 million) by a builders' lobby to join the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ranks.
With less than 48 hours before the crucial trust vote and the UPA finding it tough to have the required 271 MPs clearly on its side, the stakes and the speculated rates of MPs are only likely to get dearer.