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Mar 17, 2011 at 12:29pm IST

Cong paid MPs to vote for N-deal: WikiLeaks

New Delhi: The WikiLeaks India cables have produced some more explosive details. The latest one is on the controversial voting on the 2008 Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

WikiLeaks says five days before the first United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of Manmohan Singh faced a crucial vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha on the deal, Congress leader Satish Sharma's aide Nachiketa Kapur showed a US Embassy employee two chests containing cash.

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The aide said that he was part of a bigger fund of Rs 50 to 60 crore that the Congress had assembled to purchase the support of MPs for the nuclear deal.

He also claimed that four MPs belonging to Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal had already been paid Rs 10 crore each, to ensure they voted the right way in the Lok Sabha.

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The WikiLeaks cable accessed by 'The Hindu' was sent to the US State Department on July 17, 2008. In the cable, US Charge d'Affaires Steven White described Satish Sharma as "a close associate of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi considered to be a very close family friend of Sonia Gandhi."

Satish Sharma, while interacting with a US diplomat reportedly told him that he and the others in the party were working hard to ensure the UPA government won the vote of confidence on July 22.

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Apparently, Nachiketa Kapur mentioned to a US Embassy aide that money was not an issue at all, but the crucial thing was to ensure that the MPs voted the right way.

However, Ajit Singh who didn't vote for the UPA during the trust vote has slammed the expose.

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"I have three and not four MPs so the facts in WikiLeaks are wrong. I had decided a long time back to go along with the Left, and not to vote for the UPA. So the question of negotiating with money doesn't arise. There was no question of influence on me to change my stand," said Singh.

There is embarrassment in store for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too. Satish Sharma also said that he was 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 and divide the BJP ranks.

Three MPs - Ashok Argal, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Singh Bhagora - belonging to the BJP had on July 22, 2008 stunned the nation by brandishing wads of cash in the Lok Sabha shortly before the Manmohan Singh government was to face the trust vote.

The trio had accused former Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi's Political Secretary Ahmad Patel of offering them bribes to abstain during the trust vote.

The Manmohan Singh government won the vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha with 275 MPs voting in favour of the UPA and 256 against it.

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