Saturday, October 1, 2011

Money trail still remains a mystery

Delhi Police's chargesheet into the cash-for-vote scam said the then Samajwadi leader Amar Singh had paid Rs 1 crore to the three BJP MPs as an advance from a total of Rs 9 crore offered to them to abstain from voting against the UPA-I in July 2008.

However, the chargesheet is silent about the origin of the Rs 1 crore. The Delhi Police has mentioned the banks from where 10 bundles of Rs 10 lakh each - most of it in Rs 1,000 denomination - and a few individuals and companies who withdrew these currency notes from banks. But, it does not mention where Singh got the money from. 

The banks listed in the chargesheet from where money had been withdrawn include Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Union Bank, Canara Bank, Axis Bank, Syndicate Bank and Pragati Gramin Bank. The chargesheet says, the police would like to further probe into the origin of money. Police sources claimed they might mention more details about the money in their supplementary chargesheet. 

The money trail is still a suspense even though the investigation has been on for almost two years. However, the police has been able to find the call details of Singh's aide Sanjeev Saxena, which reveals that on July 22, 2008, he made 15 calls from his cellphone. 

Of these, seven calls were made to a landline number, and he received a call from the same number, which is installed at Singh's 27, Lodhi Estate, residence. The chargesheet gives details of a white Maruti Gypsy (DL-3CS 8562) that was used in transporting Rs 1 crore from Singh's house. The vehicle is owned by Pankaja Art and Credit P, a firm owned by Singh. 

The chargesheet is also silent on the role of Reoti Raman Singh, a Samajwadi Party leader. The investigation accepts that Raman Singh arranged meeting of three BJP MPs with Singh, but it has not found sufficient evidence regarding his role in soliciting, attempting, taking or giving bribe to three BJP MPs.

The former Samajwadi Party general secretary, Amar Singh, was on Wednesday chargesheeted along with BJP leader L.K. Advani's former aide, Sudheendra Kulkarni, two former BJP MPs and two others for allegedly entering into a conspiracy to bribe MPs for their votes during the confidence motion in the Lok Sabha over the India-U.S. nuclear deal in 2008. 

The charge sheet, submitted by the Delhi Police Crime Branch along with other documents, alleges that Mr. Kulkarni was the brain behind the conspiracy to conduct the sting operation showing that the MPs had been approached and bribed to vote in favour of the trust motion. 

He allegedly remained in touch with the other conspirators when bribes were paid to the former BJP MPs, Phagan Singh Kuleste and Mahaveer Singh Bhagoda, and the incumbent MP Ashok Argal. The police sought sanction for prosecution from the Lok Sabha Speaker to initiate proceedings against Mr. Argal for having received bribe.

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