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Cash-for-vote scam: Panel to hear matter on Aug 18

New Delhi, Tue, 12 Aug 2008 NI Wire

The parliamentary committee constituted to unearth cash-for-vote scam occurred during confidence motion on July 22 that rocked the House and stunned the entire nation took a leap in the dark on Monday when the six-member team of CNN-IBN television news channel-that carried sting operation-led by its head and editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai appeared before it. After a two-hour long inquiry with the six-member CNN-IBN team the panel summoned Samajwadi Party MP Rewati Raman Singh and three others to be appeared at the next meeting on August 18.

During the investigation the team replied to a query that it was contacted by sources in the BJP and on the information it decided to carry out a sting operation. The channel had planned to telecast the programme after a detailed investigation and accumulation of reliable evidences, but its plan failed as the BJP members waived the wads of currency in a jiffy in the Parliament. Sardesai also told the panel that it was channel’s jurisdiction to telecast any programme (here, sting operation) or not or when to air, the panel or any party has nothing to do in this matter.

Another reason for not airing the programme was part of the channel’s sensible job because telecasting the tapes 'prematurely" may have impaired the investigation being conducted by the Parliament panel. The cash-for-votes sting operation was eventually aired on Monday night.

Two more incident-related tapes were presented to the panel by the team. These tapes were based on the interview of three BJP MPs after revealing of the alleged bribe currency in the Parliament and was not part of the sting operations, the team said to panel. The panel will probe the authenticity of these tapes. With these, the panel has now acquired 11 tapes including the one submitted by Amar Singh.

The panel later issued summon to four persons- Samajwadi Party MP Rewati Raman Singh, who allegedly fixed an appointment for the three BJP MPs with SP general secretary Amar Singh, Suheendra Kulkarni, Sanjeev Saxena, and Sohail Hindustani-directing them to be appear before it at the next meeting on August 18.

Among these three persons Kulkarni was present at the spot when the sting was being conducted, Saxena reportedly brought cash to the residence of BJP MP Ashok Argal and Hindustani who reportedly accompanied the three BJP MPs to the residence of Amar Singh. BJP MPs had named Mr. Singh in their complaint. Some of these names were popped up during the cross examination of Mr. Argal and Mr. Kulaste.

The seven-member panel headed by Kishore Chandra Deo, a senior Congress Legislator was set up by the Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to investigate allegations made by three BJP MPs that they were offered bribes to remain either abstain from the House on July 22 or to give vote to the UPA government during trust vote in Parliament.

The panel was asked to submit its report by August 11, the day when the Monsoon session was to kick off. But, since the session could not begin on the scheduled date, the panel’s date extended by it. The Speaker has extended the date for the submission of report by the last of this month on the request of panel’s head Kishore Chandra Deo.

The next meeting of the panel will be held on August 18 when Rewati Raman Singh along with three others who have been asked to appear.

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