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Amar Singh arrested, sent to jail in cash-for-votes case

September 06
04:15 2011

Amar Singh

New Delhi:  Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh has been arrested and has been sent to Tihar Jail.
 
This after a judge asked the Delhi Police pointed questions on why Mr Singh had not been arrested yet in the cash-for-votes case; she then ordered that the politician be arrested, sending him to judicial custody till September 19. The next hearing is on that day.

Mr Singh has been accused of offering crores as a bribe to three MPs to support the government in a trust vote in 2008. At the time, he was a senior leader of the Samajwadi Party. Two of the former BJP MPs – Faggan Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora – have also been arrested and sent to jail till September 19.
 
Mr Singh had sought interim bail citing poor medical condition, but the court was unimpressed – it had asked his lawyers to furnish medical documents in support of their argument, which they failed to adequately do. Mr Singh’s legal team says it will now try to fly in medical experts from Singapore to bolster the MP’s claim.  They say the politician faces the risk of infection after a kidney transplant that he underwent last year.
 
Earlier in the day, after the judge seemed unconvinced that Amar Singh was too sick to make it to court, the politician obeyed court summons making a brief and dramatic entry to plead that he was indeed very ill.

“I have great faith in judiciary, I came here against medical advice. I have to go abroad every three months for treatment and checkups. At home, I saw news channels and was disturbed that they said I’m hiding. That’s why I came,” Mr Singh said.

Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was a political advisor to senior BJP leader LK Advani in 2008, was also summoned to court today but did not show up because he is travelling in America. He has informed the court that he will be back on September 19.

Like Mr Singh, Mr Kulkarni has been accused by the Delhi Police of playing a central role in what’s known as the cash-for-votes scam.

The BJP has called it the “scandal of the century.” The BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy said Mr Singh should now disclose who he was representing when he allegedly bribed the three BJP MPs. “Who was  the beneficiary (of this arrangement),” asked Mr Rudy.  “It was the UPA government, it was Mr Manmohan Singh.  And how come nothing has been done against them… those who benefitted?”

In July 2008, the Left pulled out of Dr Manmohan Singh’s government over a civil nuclear deal with America. Hours before Dr Singh’s trust vote on July 22, three BJP MPs appeared in the Lok Sabha waving bundles of cash that they said added upto one crore. The MPs – Ashok Argal, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahaveer Bhagora – said the money had been offered to them by Mr Singh’s associates if they promised to abstain during the vote.

After its investigation, the Delhi Police says that Mr Singh came up with the plan to buy the MP’s votes; it has however failed to explain why Mr Singh wanted to orchestrate this illicit support for the UPA government, to which his party provided external support, voting with it on major legislation. Mr Singh’s secretary, Sanjeev Saxena, has been arrested for handing over the money to the MPs. So has Sohail Hindustani, who claims he used to be a BJP youth activist and helped handle the transaction between Mr Singh and the trio of MPs.

The MPs had reportedly been offered three crores each; one crore was given to them ahead of the vote as an advance. The Supreme Court which is supervising the police inquiry has said it is critical for the police to now establish the source of the funds.

Mr Singh has denied all charges against him. Sources in the police say that given his considerable political influence, they preferred for the court to order his arrest, rather than acting on their own initiative. The evidence against him includes detailed phone records which show Mr Saxena calling him repeatedly in the hours before the trust vote. A car owned by Mr Singh also delivered the money to the MPs.

The police believe that the MPs were asked to find buyers by Mr Kulkarni, who fancied himself as a whistleblower and wanted to expose the UPA’s willingness to purchase support to survive its no-confidence motion.  He has been charged with conspiracy and “inducement.”

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