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Cash-for-vote: CNN-IBN finally airs tapes

Cash-for-vote: CNN-IBN finally airs tapes

Author: Pioneer News Service
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: August 12, 2008

UPA partners reel under impact of scandals caught on camera

The CNN-IBN on Monday telecast the much-awaited tapes of the 'cash-for-vote' scandal. The tapes were telecast more than 20 days after the channel carried out a sting operation to expose the alleged horse-trading that took place before the July 22 trust vote in Parliament. The channel's decision to telecast the tape on Monday coincided with its appearance before the parliamentary panel investigating the matter.

The BJP, which had boycotted the channel for withholding telecast of the tapes, responded saying that the nation has "now clearly seen how the Manmohan Singh Government indulged in dubious and corrupt means to remain in power". Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "The complaint of the three BJP MPs stands vindicated by the telecast of the tapes. This also proves the link between Amar Singh and Sanjeev Saxena. We demand a quick and thorogh probe as this matter involves the prestige of Parliament."

The tape had three main sections. The first showed Samajwadi Party MP Reoti Raman Singh meeting three BJP MPs -- Ashok Argal, Mahavir Bhagora and Faggan Singh Kulaste -- and offering them a meeting with his party colleague to fix the "amount".

The MPs appeared reluctant to go out and, instead, wanted to discuss the matter over phone with the unidentified man.

In the second section, a white Maruti Zen is seen entering into and coming out of Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh's official residence at 27 Lodhi Estate in New Delhi.

The BJP leaders have all along claimed that two of their party MPs -- Argal and Kulaste -- went to meet Amar Singh in this car.

The last section has footage showing Sanjeev Saxena, an alleged aide of the SP general secretary, delivering Rs 1 crore to the three BJP MPs and making them speak to someone (the BJP MPs claim it was Amar Singh) over phone. Though Amar Singh does not figure in the tapes, the BJP MPs in the recording are seen referring to some "Singhji" and Sanjeev Saxena speaking to some "Sirji".

While Amar Singh denied having a close association with Saxena, the BJP has produced "documentary evidence" before the parliamentary panel investigating the matter to prove Saxena's proximity with the SP leader.

Asked by the channel whether the BJP had forced the three MPs into the sting operation, party general secretary Arun Jaitley said they had complained that while they had been rebuffing the bribery attempts, the media was carrying their names as "suspects". "So, we told them to take a bold step and become whistle-blowers," he said.

The channel said that when it tried to talk to Reoti Raman Singh, he refused to appear on camera. He told the channel that the BJP MPs had been calling him for quite some time and so he went and talked to them in a house at Ferozeshah Road. He also claimed that he had never used the word "amount", nor did he indulge in "such politics" at any time in his career.

Earlier, Rajdeep Sardesai, Editor-in-Chief of the news channel, and five of his staff appeared before the parliamentary panel and submitted two more tapes which the committee would examine. Both the panel chairman V Kishore Chandra Deo and Sardesai refused to talk about what the latter disclosed before the committee.

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India national secretary D Raja questioned the delay by the channel in telecasting the tapes. "It should have been shown on the very first day when it was handed over to the Lok Sabha Speaker," he said.

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