New Delhi: Prime Minister on Friday rejected allegations of bribing MPs to win a trust vote in 2008. He said that neither the government nor the Congress party was involved in any ‘unlawful’ act.

Parliament was rocked for the second day on the issue with the Opposition rejecting the Prime Minister's statement as BJP threatened to move a privilege motion against Singh while Congress toyed with the idea of paying back in the same coin.

"An issue was raised that the offence of bribery was committed in India. Government rejects the allegations absolutely and firmly," he said in an identical statement to both the Houses of Parliament.

Referring to the charges in the Wikileaks that bribes were paid to win the Confidence Motion of UPA-I after Left withdrew support over Indo-US nuclear deal, he questioned the authenticity of the diplomatic dispatches quoted by the whistle blower website.

"No one from the Congress party or government indulged in any unlawful act," he said.
Singh referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee probe that went into bribery allegations in 2008 and said the committee had concluded there was insufficient evidence to draw any conclusion.

But the Opposition was not convinced by the Prime Minister's statement and disrupted proceedings forcing repeated adjournments.

Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley, who was disallowed by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari from seeking clarifications from the Prime Minister, said Singh had ‘misled’ the House by his claim that there was no case of bribery.

That would be the basis on which his party would table a privilege notice against him.
Hitting out at the Opposition, Singh said it was "unfortunate" that it continues to raise the ‘old charges’.

"It is most surprising that speculative, unverified and unverifiable communications should be given dignity and seized upon by the Opposition parties to revive old charges that have been soundly rejected," Singh said.

He pointed out that the UPA-I had won the Confidence Motion in July 2008 with 275 votes in favour and 256 against.

These allegations of bribery were investigated by a committee of the 14th Lok Sabha which concluded that there was insufficient evidence to draw any conclusion.

"I am disappointed that the Opposition has forgotten what happened thereafter. The Opposition repeated the allegations of bribery and how did the people respond," he said, citing the increase in Congress seats from 141 to 206 in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls as compared to BJP whose tally declined from 138 to 116 and that of Left parties from 59 to 34.

Insisting that the UPA-I "always enjoyed" the confidence of people, Singh said, "The UPA-II government has been formed in the 15th Lok Sabha and enjoys the confidence of this House and the people of India."

In both the Houses, Opposition members wanted to seek clarifications on Singh's statement but they were disallowed.

(Agencies)