Amar questioned, denies role in 2008 ‘horse trading’

July 22nd, 2011 - 10:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Rajya Sabha MP and former high-profile Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, during his three-hour police interrogation Friday, denied he had bribed three BJP parliamentarians to save the Congress-led government during the 2008 trust vote.

Amar Singh, however, admitted that he was in touch with Congress MPs at the time but “at the political level”, according to sources familiar with the quizzing.

The trust vote was necessitated after the Left parties withdrew support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-I government over the India-US nuclear deal.

Amar Singh was questioned at the office of the inter-state cell of Crime Branch in Chanakyapuri. He refused to speak to the media and looked rather subdued before and after the questioning.

Amar Singh reached the Crime Branch office in his dark blue Mercedes around 10.45 a.m. and left at 2.15 p.m.

The sources said he was confronted with Sanjeev Saxena, his former private secretary, and Suhail Hindustani, a former member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Yuva Morcha, who are in police custody for their alleged role in what came to be known as the cash-for-votes scam.

“Amar Singh during grilling repeatedly refused to be part of the scam and said Sanjeev Saxena was his employee, but not at the time of the scam. He said he did not know anything about Hindustani,” said a source.

Both the arrested accused have named Amar Singh in the alleged horse trading.

Saxena has alleged that the then SP leader had provided Rs.1 crore for getting the support of three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs in the trust vote.

Bags filled with currency notes were shown in the Lok Sabha July 22, 2008, minutes before the trust vote was to take place.

Amar Singh’s interrogators told him that his driver Sanjay had allegedly gone with Saxena to deliver the money at the residences of the three BJP MPs - Fagan Singh Kulaste, Mahavir Bhagora and Ashok Argal.

But Amar Singh said he had “no idea about the money transactions and where his driver went after his duty hours”, the source said.

The police haven’t ruled out a second round of quizzing of Amar Singh after “the witness and accused” were questioned.

“We are looking for evidences and tracing the accounts from where the money originated,” said a police officer.

The next in line to be questioned in the scam is Samajwadi Party MP Reoti Raman Singh of Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh.

He has been called to appear Saturday in Delhi or else he would be interrogated Monday.

BJP’s Ashok Argal, who was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in the 2009 election, is also likely to be questioned over the money transations in the scam which was caught in a TV sting by a national channel.

L.K. Advani’s former aide Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was allegedly behind the sting operation to trap the bribe-givers, is also likely to be questioned.

Meanwhile, the arrested duo — Saxena and Hindustani — were sent to 14-day judicial custody in Tihar Jail.

On his way to a court from the crime branch office, Hindustani told reporters: “The government is trying to trap me in this case.”

BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy, addressing a press conference, said his party wanted to know who was the “beneficiary” in the scam that saved the government from falling in 2008.

“This is the basic question which the BJP would like to know. The money that was to be given to the MPs, whether the UPA government and Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) were the beneficiaries.”

The case was registered in 2009 on recommendation by a parliamentary panel which probed the cash-for-vote scam.

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