Cash for votes

Wikileaks cables are making news for its revelations about paying cash to get votes. Candidates paying money to voters or UPA paying money to MPs to survive trust vote is back in news.

Azhagiri is said to have paid Rs.5,000 per voter in Thirumangalam. Previous bribe was Rs.500 per voter. In Sivaganga, Karti Chidamabram, son of P. Chidambaram, is said to have paid voters. Asaduddin Owaisi is said to have paid money to fund worthy requests in his constituency and according to him the legal spending limit of 25 lakh rupees on election was a joke and he spends 25 lakh rupees on polling day alone.

Did the losers in above elections complain to the Election Commission and if so what did the Election Commission do? In Sivaganga, P. Chidambaram’s rival was first declared elected and then on recount P. Chidambaram was declared elected and his rival had gone to court. Election Commission’s credibility is at test.

Cables regarding trust vote mention various names. On 17/3/2011 BJP demand Manmohan Singh’s resignation on the basis of cable that said Satish Sharma’s political aide Nachiketa Kapur mentioned to an Embassy staff member on 16/7/2008 that Ajit Singh’s RLD had been paid Rs.10 crore for each of their four MPs to support the government but the crucial thing was to ensure that those who took the money would vote for the government. Nachiketa Kapur showed two chests containing cash around Rs.50-60 crore.

RLD MPs voted against the government. Besides, there were three RLD MPs, not four. On the basis of above cable it is unreasonable to demand Manmohan Singh’s resignation. If the RLD MPs had voted for the government it could have been said that they voted for the government because they received cash. When they did not vote for the government it means either they did not get the money or they got the money but voted against the government which is unlikely. It is possible that money was not paid to RLD MPs and someone thought renaming Lucknow’s Amausi airport after Ajit Singh’s father Charan Singh would get RLD votes.

Americans wanted the nuclear deal to go through and their interest in the survival of UPA government is understandable. Did they pay the money to buy votes? Why did Nachiketa Kapur tell the employee that the crucial thing was to ensure that those who took the money would vote for the government? Possibly to tell the Americans that RLD MPs did not vote for the government in spite of getting money while RLD MPs would not know what Nachiketa Kapur told the Americans and Nachiketa Kapur and others were sure that the Americans will not check with RLD MPs.

Kamal Nath is mentioned as someone who could formerly pay small planes as bribes but now with jets. Tarun Das in a telephone conversation had mentioned Kamal Nath as someone who makes 15% on contracts.

Some BJP MPs had defied party whip and voted for the motion on 22/7/2008. BJP can find out how much they received and from whom and if that points to Congress leaders they can justifiably ask for Manmohan Singh’s resignation even though the matter pertains to 14th Lok Sabha. The sting operation conducted by CNN-IBN does not have any Congress leader in it. Congress leaders are “smart” and they do not give or take cash themselves. On 22/7/2008 BJP MPs Ashok Arga, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora had put out notes and placed them on the table of the house during the debate. The committee headed by V. Kishore Chandra Deo went into their claim. It did not find evidence against Ahmed Patel and “clinching evidence” against Amar Singh, then a Samajwadi Party MP, and recommended further investigation.

Manmohan Singh has refused to resign. He says he did not authorize cash for votes. He added that in 2009 elections the number of BJP MPs came down from 139 to 112 and of Left Front from 59 to 24. If BJP wants Manmohan Singh to quit it has to move no confidence motion and win.

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