Pleading innocence on an issue that had the opposition calling for
his immediate resignation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said
Friday that he had not authorised anyone to buy MPs to win the
2008 trust vote nor had any knowledge such transactions.
A day after he came under attack for alleged disclosures on
WikiLeaks that his government had bought MPs to stay in power
after the 2008 trust vote, Manmohan Singh broke his silence and
said: "I have no knowledge of any such purchases. I am absolutely
categorical, I have not authorised anyone to purchase any votes. I
am not aware of any act of purchase of votes."
"I am absolutely certain in asserting that I am not at all, I
think, involved in any of these transactions," the prime minister
said at the India Today conclave.
US diplomatic cables leaked on WikiLeaks and published by The
Hindu newspaper Thursday purportedly say that payoffs had been
made to MPs to ensure a majority for the Congress-led government
in the confidence vote over the India-US nuclear deal in 2008.
Nachiketa Kapur, described as a political aide of Congress leader
Satish Sharma, is quoted in the leaked cables as saying that a
fund of Rs.50 crore had been formed to pay MPs.
According to the leaked cable: "Sharma's political aide mentioned
to an embassy staff member in an aside on July 16 that Ajit
Singh's (Rashtriya Lok Dal) RLD had been paid Rs.10 crore for each
of their four MPs to support the government."
"Kapur showed the embassy employee two chests containing cash and
said that around Rs.50-60 crore was lying around the house for use
The prime minister, however, raised doubts over the authenticity
of diplomatic correspondence cited by the WikiLeaks.
"As far as the events of the last few days and the so-called
WikiLeaks (are concerned), I would not like to comment," Manmohan
He said: "I think, people who are affected by them (leaked US
diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks), they have already commented on
them, casting serious doubts about the veracity of allegations
made in these diplomatic despatches."
Responding to a question on currency notes being flaunted by MPs
in parliament during the 2008 vote, Manmohan Singh said: "The
events you have mentioned, they do affect us. They affect our
image both at home and abroad. Without going into any specific
event, all this emphasises the need for strong and effective
electoral reforms in which funding of political parties is more
He said a parliamentary committee had looked into the issue "and
that report is available".
Asked what the government was planning to do on the scam in the
face of persistent opposition protests, Manmohan Singh said he
would speak only in parliament.
"I would not like to comment on what we are going to do right now
or in days to come. These are the matters which are being
discussed in parliament. If I have anything to say, we would say
in parliament first," he said.