If Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh went on the offensive threatening defamation cases against the BJP MPs who named him in the cash-for-abstention scam, Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel offered to quit politics if the allegations against him were proved right.
The drama in Lok Sabha that started with BJP MPs flashing bundles of currency notes — alleged bribe money offered to three of them to abstain — in the House, spilled to other parts of the Parliament complex. Looking perturbed, Patel, who is not a Lok Sabha MP, trooped in minutes later with Congress general secretaries Digvijay Singh and Janardan Dwivedi in tow and held an impromptu briefing amid the circus that was being played out.
The MPs alleged Patel had struck the deal with them over the phone.
“For the first time, some one has tried to drag my party and me into a controversy. It is a serious allegation. They should give whatever evidence they have to the Speaker and there should be a thorough investigation. If the allegations are proved right, I will quit public life,” Patel said.
He said he had heard his name on TV and thought it necessary to clarify his position.
“These are absolutely baseless allegations. Many politicians call me,” Patel said as he charged the Opposition camp with conspiring against him and the Congress “because they don’t have the numbers”. Asked if any one among the Congress’s allies might have approached the MPs on his party’s behalf, Patel shot back saying: “The Congress didn’t authorise anyone to speak on our behalf.”
His party colleague Digvijay Singh was more attacking in his response. “It is the handiwork of the dirty tricks-department of the BJP.” He added that the BJP had similarly produced bundles of currency notes in a recent Rajya Sabha election in Madhya Pradesh.