Congress MP who probed cash-for-votes scam wants deeper inquiry (Lead)

March 17th, 2011 - 7:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, March 17 (IANS) As the controversy over the cash-for-votes scam brewed afresh Thursday following WikiLeaks disclosures, Congress MP Kishore Chandra Deo, who probed the 2008 scam, said his findings were not complete and the scandal should be investigated by appropriate agencies.

Deo, the MP from Araku in Andhra Pradesh, headed the seven-member parliamentary committee that investigated the allegation of three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs that they were bribed to abstain during the July 22, 2008, trust vote in the aftermath of the controversial Indo-US civil nuclear deal which threatened to topple the first United Progressive Alliance central government.

In his report, Deo gave a clean chit to then Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh and Congress leader Ahmed Patel who were named in the cash-for-votes sting operation by news channel CNN-IBN.

But Thursday, Deo said his report was “not yet a closed chapter”.

“Let me remind you that my report is not a closed chapter. In the end, it is stated that it (the scam) should be investigated further by appropriate investigating agencies,” Deo told reporters.

In the sting operation, Patel and Amar Singh were alleged to have offered bribes to opposition MPs to abstain from the vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha.

Deo said his brief was to just investigate the content of the tapes given by the then speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

“It is based on these tapes that I conducted my inquiry. Our mandate was to just go into whatever those tapes gave us. We need further investigation by an appropriate investigative agency,” he said.

“The parliamentary committee is not an investigating agency. Our brief was to find out from these tapes whether money was paid to MPs or not. Based on the evidence, we submitted our report. You see, parliamentary committee doesn’t have the inputs and wherewithal the professional investigative agencies have,” Deo said.

Deo, a fifth-term MP, said that the Income-Tax department, Enforcement Directorate and police can probe various aspects of the scam.

The 2008 controversy resurfaced Thursday after a US diplomatic cable leaked on WikiLeaks and published by The Hindu newspaper said that payoffs had been made to MPs to ensure majority for the Congress-led government in the confidence vote over the nuclear deal.

Nachiketa Kapur, who is said to have been a political aide of Congress leader Satish Sharma, is quoted as saying that a fund of Rs.50 crore had been formed to pay the opposition MPs. He also apparently showed two chests containing the cash meant for the payoffs.

Both Kapur and Sharma have denied knowing each other personally.

Deo said Sharma or Kapur were bot named in the sting operation tapes.

“These names didn’t figure anywhere. Neither were these names mentioned nor were they visible anywhere in the tapes,” he said.

He, however, refused to comment on the authenticity of the WikiLeaks disclosures.

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