New Delhi: Two days after the Supreme Court slammed it for a shoddy probe into cash-for-vote scam, Delhi Police on Sunday made its first arrest in the case, taking into custody Sanjeev Saxena, believed to be an aide of MP Amar Singh, for allegedly trying to bribe BJP MPs during the UPA government's trust vote in 2008.

Police sources said Saxena was placed under arrest this afternoon following his questioning in connection with the probe into the incident which came to light on July 22, 2008 when BJP MPs displayed Rs one crore in Lok Sabha alleging that they had been offered bribe to save the government.

Saxena has been charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act, police said.

The BJP had alleged that Saxena was Amar Singh's aide and he was allegedly caught on camera giving money to the BJP MPs. They also alleged that it was Saxena who called Amar
Singh from his mobile phone and got the three MPs to talk to him in order to fix a deal. Amar Singh had denied any role and had distanced himself from Saxena.

"He (Saxena) was arrested from Delhi by Crime Branch team. There was evidence against him in this case. He will be produced before court tomorrow," a top police official said.

The allegation was levelled by then BJP MPs Ashok Argal, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora. The MPs alleged that it was Saxena who had delivered Rs one crore in cash to them at the 4 Ferozshah Road residence of Ashok Argal on July 22, 2008, hours before the vote of confidence in Lok Sabha.

The police action came close on the heels of the Supreme Court coming down heavily on Delhi Police for its "callous approach" in probing the 2008 'cash-for-vote scam' and asking why it has not taken action so far against those involved in the case.

In strong words, the court had said, "We are not happy at all with the probe done by the Delhi Police. This is not the way to probe the offence of such serious nature."

A seven-member parliamentary panel had probed the allegations and asked the Delhi Police to investigate the role of Saxena, besides that of Sudheendra Kulkarni, a former aide
of BJP leader L K Advani, and Suhail Hindustani in the case.

According to BJP, SP leader Reoti Raman Singh allegedly met BJP MPs Argal, Kulaste and Bhagora at Argal's residence where the transaction was discussed.

This was purportedly recorded through hidden cameras by a television channel which has not telecast the tape on the ground that its investigations were not complete.

These MPs travelled to 27 Lodi Estate on July 22, the day of the voting. The car which took the MPs to the residence of Singh was followed by the channel and its movements allegedly recorded.

The MPs alleged that the tape had Saxena repeatedly calling a number.

The Apex Court had expressed concern that no progress has been made by the police in the case. "Investigation has been done with callousness on the complaint filed by Lok Sabha
Secretary," it said.

The bench said it was "fully dis-satisfied" with the status report filed by the police and pulled it up for not carrying out custodial interrogation.

The court was hearing a petition filed by former Chief Election Commissioner J M Lyngdoh seeking directions to the government to take action against politicians involved in the scam.

BJP slams Congress for Saxena's arrest

Terming cash-for-vote scam as the biggest blot on Indian democracy, BJP on Sunday sharpened its attack on Congress in the wake of Sanjeev Saxena's arrest in the case, saying it had exposed the party's alleged protection to the corrupt.

"The Manmohan Singh-led Congress government today stands exposed for converting a minority into a majority by luring MPs of other political parties in lieu of cash,", said BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar.

Demanding a fair, speedy and impartial probe into the cash-for-vote scam, he said the real face of the government is now coming out before everyone.

"The government which had no majority garnered it by dubious means. They lured MPs from various parties and converted a minority into a majority," Javadekar said.

The BJP leader hoped, "I am sure if the inquiry is conducted in an impartial manner and speedily, it will expose the relationship between Sanjeev Saxena and Amar Singh. The design of the Congress of how it converted a minority government into a majority by luring MPs of other parties in lieu of cash will be unearthed and exposed".

"In this country, you can kill anybody, but you cannot kill the truth".

Javadekar said, "The police and the government must do their job honestly and with speed and we are very sure, the truth will emerge. We welcome that truth has come out, but only after the Supreme Court intervened".

Sharpening its attack on the government, the BJP leader charged it with not acting against the corrupt and protecting them instead.

"This is the Congress culture of not acting against the corrupt and instead protecting it. The Congress government acts against corruption only after Supreme Court directs it. Today this has been proved right."

Javadekar said, "The country has now seen that the government is not at all interested in exposing the corrupt, unless the Supreme Court mandates it. The Supreme Court has ordered the inquiry into the cash-for-vote scam and the first arrest has taken place in the form of Saxena."

The BJP leader further said, "It is also clear now how the truth was stopped from coming out earlier. The Congress was not interested to look into the matter and was delaying the enquiry, because ultimately they will be unmasked and their corrupt practices would come out in the open".

He lamented that it was not because of the government's will that the truth had come out. "It has come out only after the Supreme Court directions and intervention. If the truth comes out, the connection between Amar Singh and accused Sanjeev Saxena - of how they collaborated and used dubious means to prove the government's majority."

On accused Saxena, the BJP leader said he was the same man who lured the three BJP MPs and brought the cash to be handed over to them and who is on record and on camera showing Rupees One crore to be offered to the three mps as first instalment, in lieu of their support to the Congress-led UPA government in 2008.

He said the BJP MPs had instead decided to unearth and expose the scam after risking their lives. "Now everything is on record and I am very sure that those involved will also show courage to show records and truth will finally emerge".

Agencies