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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cash-for-votes: Amar denies direct contact with Hindustani, Saxena

Delhi cops drag feet on grilling Amar Singh•Cash-for-votes scam: Ex-BJP worker blames Amar, Ahmed PatelFor the first time on Friday, Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh was interrogated by crime branch officials in connection with the 2008 cash-for-votes scandal. He was grilled for almost three hours after he arrived at the crime branch's cell in his Volkswagen car at 10.45 am.

Also present were Sanjeev Saxena and Suhail Hindustani, who have already been arrested in the case.

Hindustani - believed to be the chief conspirator in the case - had claimed he offered the bribe to BJP MPs on Singh's behest. On his way to court escorted by the police on Friday, Hindustani shouted: "Satyameva Jayate. Yeh sarkar hame fasa rahi hai (Truth will prevail. This government is falsely trapping us in the case)." A police source said: "Singh claimed his mobile phone was usually answered by his staff. He vehemently denied ever having spoken to Hindustani." Sources said Singh also denied being on close terms with Saxena, who has claimed to have known the former Samajwadi Party leader.

Singh allegedly told the investigating officials that Saxena may have worked in one of his companies some time, but he had no direct contact with him anytime, especially in 2008.

Another source said questions were asked about the sequence of events and Singh's role in them, but he claimed to be ignorant about the allegations that he funded the bribe money.

While leaving the office, Singh refused to answer questions from the media. Police sources said he was likely to be interrogated again before the police finally submitted their status report to the Supreme Court.

The BJP on Friday termed the police probe as an effort to suppress the truth rather than unravel the conspiracy.

Singh is the first politician to be questioned in the case three years after the shameful incident in Parliament. During that time, both the BJP and Congress have questioned each other's role in the bribery during the trust vote.

"The BJP wants to know who the beneficiary was of the entire exercise of giving money to MPs in 2008. Was it the UPA government or the PM?" party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy asked.

Actually, the probe in the case can scald both parties as a host of politicians are set to be interrogated in the coming days.

The BJP already expressed its reservations on the probe. "The Delhi Police report directly to the home affairs ministry and the government. This is ample evidence why they have remained silent on the probe for (so long)," Rudy said.

Hours later, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi reacted angrily to the insinuations.

He said: "I can say many things that I am not saying. I can say Sudheendra Kulkarni (former BJP leader) once admitted it (sting operation to expose the buying of MPs) was organised by the BJP. But I am not saying it." He added: "I can say it was a case of MPs desperate to sell themselves so they could tell the public that the government survived through other means. But why should I say all this." Singhvi said the Congress was of the view that all aspects of the case should be examined and investigations completed as soon as possible.

Despite the BJP and Congress's barbs at each other, the parties shied away from naming Singh. The police have now sent notice to Samajwadi Party MP Rewati Raman Singh asking him to be present for questioning on Monday. BJP MP from Bhind, Ashok Argal, is next in line to be grilled.

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