WikiLeaks expose: US embassy refuses to comment

March 17th, 2011 - 2:47 pm ICT by ANI  

Sonia Gandhi New Delhi, Mar. 17 (ANI): The Embassy of the United States on Thursday refused to comment on reported WikiLeaks disclosures that quoted one of its officials as saying that the Congress party had paid huge sums of money to lawmakers to win a confidence vote in parliament in 2008.

In a statement, a US Embassy spokesperson said: “The Department of State does not comment on materials, including classified documents, which may have been leaked. We cannot speak to the authenticity of any documents provided to the press.”

According to the WikiLeaks disclosure A set of India-related diplomatic cables on the Indo-US nuclear deal released by it claims that an aide of Congress leader Satish Sharma had told a US diplomat that the party had paid crores to several lawmakers to ensure that they voted for the deal in Parliament.

In a cable dated July 17, 2008 sent to the US State Department, Charge d’Affaires Steven White wrote about a visit the embassy’s political counsellor paid to Rajya Sabha MP Satish Sharma.

Sharma, according to WikiLeaks, told the US diplomat that he and others in the Congress were working hard to ensure that the government would win the confidence vote on July 22, 2008.

According to White, Sharma’s political aide Nachiketa Kapur mentioned to an embassy staff member in an aside on July 16 that the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) had been paid Rs 10 crore to each of its four MPs.

Kapur mentioned that money was not an issue at all, but the crucial thing was to ensure that those who took the money would vote for 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 as pay-offs

Sharma also revealed to him that the top Congress leadership including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself were in favour of the Indo-US nuclear deal and had conveyed this message clearly to the party. “Efforts were also on to try and get the Shiv Sena to abstain.

Further, Sharma mentioned that he was also exploring the possibility of trying to get former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya to speak to BJP representatives to try to divide the BJP ranks, ” the cable quoted the US official as saying.

The UPA Government had sailed through the 2008 trust vote with 275 votes in favour and 256 against. (ANI)

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