Congress demands court-monitored probe by sitting judge into 'horse-trading' video

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New Delhi, Nov 2 (PTI) Ahead of the November 3 bypolls in eight Assembly seats in Gujarat, the Congress on Monday demanded a court-monitored probe by a sitting judge into the accusation of a former party MLA, as purportedly shown in a sting video, that each lawmaker who resigned in the state was paid off.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi accused the BJP of turning the legislature into a 'forum for business' to satiate its 'greed for power' and questioned the ruling party's silence on the charges made in the sting video.

The Congress also played the video purportedly showing former Gujarat MLA Soma Patel confessing of being paid Rs 10-crore bribe by the BJP to switch sides.

'This is certainly not a flash in the pan or an isolated one-off incident. From Manipur to Goa, from Karnataka to Gujarat, time and again we have had this excessive greed for power, bordering on paranoia. We will win or lose the election but, we must be in power,' he told reporters.

Former president of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee Arjun Modhwadia demanded a court-monitored probe by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court or High Court into the sting video.

'Where is the black money to pay off MLAs coming from? There should be a thorough independent inquiry into the video tapes. Since all probe agencies have lost credibility and become a part of the government, the probe should be carried out by a sitting Supreme Court or High Court judge and monitored by the court to bring the truth out,' Modhwadia told reporters.

Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda had first released the video at a press conference in Ahmedabad on Sunday and sought a judicial inquiry or a probe by state and central investigative agencies. State BJP chief C R Paatil had questioned the video's authenticity and rejected the claim that his party was involved in horse trading.

AICC in-charge for Gujarat Congress Rajeev Satav said the tapes have 'fully exposed the BJP' on the manner in which it operates through this model.

'This fully exposes the BJP. It is an insult to the public mandate,' he said.

Singhvi alleged, 'The BJP's motto is clear. It is 'We will have a fair fight and we will lose but, we must get power at all costs''.

He also sought changes in the anti-defection law, saying parliament could amend it by not allowing those legislators to recontest within a few months of their resigning and not allowing them to be a minister.

'These incidents illustrate that the legislature has become a forum for business for the BJP. I had used the phrase 'trade, trafficking and transactional analysis' of BJP in the legislatures, the three Ts, aggressively indulged in by the BJP,' Singhvi said.

The Congress leader alleged that the BJP has maintained a 'war chest of enormous proportions' for such 'dirty tricks' and activities and even if half the amount was used for social welfare, the country would be rid of many problems.

'But, the focus of this ruling party at the Centre and in Gujarat, the focus has never been social welfare. It has been to break governments and make governments, by hook or by crook and more usually by crook, not by hook,' he alleged.

'But, all that we get is silence, not a word and the eloquent prime minister with great 'Jumlas' is suddenly seized by silence whenever we point out these things. There is neither reprimand, nor admonishes, nor action, nor suspension, nor dismissal, not even an acknowledgement. It is time the prime minister reacted at least to his own home state to such repeated clear proved allegations,' Singhvi said.

''Na Kahunga, Na Khane Dunga' sounds like Alice in Wonderland. It is hurtful to call yourself a 'Chowkidar',' he alleged. PTI SKC NSD NSD