Posts Tagged ‘Ahmed Patel’

NaMo, PaChi, chai, MaShAi and Mahabharatha

20 February 2014

Those who know Gujarat politics know that its chief minister Narendra Damodardas Modi‘s claims of having been a tea-seller at Ahmedabad (or was it Vadnagar?) railway station in his youth is a minor “fake encounter with facts”. Sonia Gandhi‘s man friday from the land of Amul, Ahmed Patel, has helpfully clarified that Shri Modiji was only a fafda-seller at his uncle’s shop.

Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped some Congressmen from revealing their upbringing.

Mani Shankar Aiyar with Doon school, St. Stephen‘s college and Cambridge in his curriculum vitae said Modi could sell tea at the Congress office, prompting the BJP (or its corporate sponsors) to do some “Chai pe Kharcha” to organise Modi’s “Chai pe Charcha“.

More recently, when Modi began doing some major fake encounters with economic facts, finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, with Harvard on his CV, stepped in to remind the world that what the BJP’s “prime ministerial candidate” knew about economics could be written on the back of a postal stamp.

The condescending comments revealed the class prejudice prevalent in Indian society and politics, writes P.M. Vasudev in Deccan Herald. But it is not something Aiyar and Chidambaram discovered with Modi on the horizon; we have grown up with it since the time of the Mahabharatha:

“With many of the negatives in contemporary India, it is possible to trace to the Mahabharatha the attitude underlying the statements of Aiyar and Chidambaram.

“At the display by the Pandavas and Kauravas on completion of their training in military skills, their guru, Drona, dared any person in the assembly to challenge Arjuna.

“When Karna rose to do so, Drona insulted and humiliated him about his lowly social position as the son of a chariot-driver and questioned how he could dare challenge a prince.

“Of course, in doing so, Drona brushed aside the main issue – namely, the skills of the contestants.

“Betraying deep-seated rank prejudices, he taunted Karna about his social position. It is a different story that Duryodhana, who had his own agenda to put the Pandavas down, stepped in and made Karna the prince of a small state, so he could compete with Arjuna ‘on a par.’”

Read the full article: Class prejudice, competence & spirit of democracy

Photograph: courtesy Daily Bhaskar

Also read: Do they teach this at Harvard Business School?

POLL: Has Modi’s march to Delhi been checked?

20 December 2012

To nobody’s surprise, Narendra Damodardas Modi has secured a remarkable third, consecutive victory for the BJP in Gujarat. But to the shock of his fanatical drumbeaters and hype masters (and internet trolls), he has ended up with two fewer seats than what he had got five years ago: 115 in 2012 versus 117 in 2007.

The reduced margin does little to take away from the significance of the mandate, but it does throw a nice question mark over the expensive and relentless public relations campaign that had been mounted (through TV channels, magazine covers, newspaper ads) to erase the memories of 2002 and to create the self-fulfilling prophecy of the development giant towering over meek, inactive creatures populating the landscape.

The size of the victory also throws a small spanner in his grand design to swiftly move to Delhi and assume charge of his beleaguered party that is no better shape than the Congress, if not worse.

The fact that he has ended up with fewer seats for all that had been invested into his giant leap by corporates, business and media houses, means that many in the BJP and RSS (and not necessarily in that order), and the NDA, will now be emboldened to question what had been assumed for granted: that he would win a huge win on the scale of his persona, serve out a few months as chief minister, hand over charge to one of his chosen ones, and then move to Delhi to lead the BJP charge in the next general election against the hapless Rahul Gandhi.

He might yet do that, but there can be little denying that some of the air has slipped out of the blimp for the moment.

The BJP reverse in Himachal Pradesh (where he made a big song and dance over induction cookers) shows that he still doesn’t possess the pan-Indian appeal that his supporters thought he does. Sans an emotive issue (despite his efforts to spread a canard about Sir Creek or his derisive labelling of Ahmed Patel as Ahmed miyan), Modi is not the force he was expected to be.

Quite clearly, it would require a superhuman to retain the interest or sustain the hype for another five years. So, when exactly will Modi make his move to Delhi? Will it be smooth? Will he able to stomach a rebuff if his advances are spurned by his party colleagues and allies? And will the “former future prime minister” be given the opportunity to stand from Gandhinagar again?

Also read: How many seats will Narendra Modi get?–II

How many seats for Narendra Modi?—I

 

‘What I told the Cash-for-Votes scam probe panel’

19 August 2008

The following is the full, unexpurgated text of the written statement made by Sudheendra Kulkarni, the former aide to prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, and currently aide to Lal Krishna Advani, before the parliamentary committee probing the cash-for-votes scandal on 22 July 2008, the day the trust motion moved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh came up before the Lok Sabha. Kulkarni deposed as an eye-witness.

***

August 14, 2008

To
The Honourable Speaker
Lok Sabha
New Delhi

Subject: The ‘Cash-for-Votes’ scandal in Parliament involving Shri Amar Singh, General Secretary of the Samajwadi Party; Shri Reoti Raman Singh, Samajwadi Party MP; and Shri Ahmed Patel, Political Secretary to the Congress President on  July 22

***

Honourable Sir,

I am submitting the following written submission to you as an eye-witness in the “Cash-for-Votes” scandal that rocked Parliament and shocked the nation on July 22.

I have been an activist of the Bharatiya Janata Party since 1996. Between 1998 and 2004 I served as an aide to Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. I am also a regular columnist in The Indian Express and several other newspapers. Both in my capacity as a political activist and as a columnist, I have endeavoured to serve the cause of secular nationalism, democracy and public good without fear or favour and to the best of my abilities.

Consequent to the withdrawal of the Left parties’ support to the UPA Government on July 8 over the Indo-US nuclear deal, I was deeply agitated by the unethical and fraudulent manner in which the UPA Government started to cobble up majority support. Well before the ‘Cash-for-Votes’ scandal broke out on July 22, I gave expression to my angry feelings and agitated thoughts in two columns (‘From ‘Lal Salaam to Dalal Salaam’, July 13, 2008 and ‘Polluting Parliamentary Democracy’, July 20, 2008).

After the scandal broke out, I wrote about it in three consecutive columns. (‘Where is the Proof?’ Asked the PM, July 27 2008; ‘Parliament on Sale’, August 3 2008; and Solzhenitsyn, Lies and Videotape, August 10, 2008). I have attached these columns just to draw your attention to the source of my inspiration for my involvement as a facilitator in the whistle-blowing operation by three BJP MPs—Shri Ashok Argal, Shri Mahavir Baghora and Shri Faggan Singh Kulaste—to expose the ‘Cash-for-Votes’ scandal.

In the fortnight before the trust vote on July 22, it was obvious to every political observer in the national capital that senior leaders of the Congress and Samajwadi Party were trying to lure non-UPA MPs into supporting the UPA Government. At around 11.30 am on July 21, I received a call from Suhail Hindustani, who said, “Bhai Sahab, do something. Over a dozen BJP MPs are being targeted. Huge amounts of money are being offered to get them to switch over.” I have known Suhail, who is also called Raja Hindustani, for many years. He was an activist of the BJP’s Yuva Morcha and, later during the NDA Government, worked closely with Shri Shahnawaz Hussain when he became a Union Minister.

I asked Suhail for the names of the BJP MPs and phoned him back a little later to say that I wanted me (sic) to meet him at the earliest for more details. He told me that he had many reliable contacts in the “market” (where middlemen are involved in wheeling and dealing). I asked him, “Aap ki pahunch kahan tak hain? (How high are your contacts?). He said, “Right up to Ahmed Patelji and Amar Singhji.”

I then asked Suhail, “What is your motive in giving all this information to me?” His reply gladdened me. He told me about his family background — how his grandfather was a staunch nationalist who refused to migrate to Pakistan after Partition and worked as a committed worker of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. “I come from Rajasthan. And I want to be like Maharana Pratap, and not like Man Singh. If I participate in this horse-trading game, I know that I can make a lot of money like any other dalal in the market. But I want to do something good for my country, my qaum and my party.”

I asked Suhail if he would work with a few BJP MPs in a whistle-blowing operation to expose the horse-trading. He agreed enthusiastically.

Later in the evening of July 21, a senior colleague of mine in the BJP informed me that CNN-IBN had agreed to record and telecast the whistle-blowing operation and that Shri Siddharth Gautam, a correspondent with the channel, would soon contact me in this regard. I shortly received a call from Shri Siddharth Gautam and we decided to meet at my temporary residence (17 Balwantrai Mehta Lane).

Shri Argal, Shri Baghora and Shri Kulaste had arrived at my residence. Suhail told me that he was ready to take the MPs to meet Shri Ahmed Patel at the latter’s residence on Willingdon Crescent at 7.30 pm. However, since the CNN-IBN team had not yet arrived, I requested him to get the meeting postponed. He then informed me that he could take the MPs to meet Shri Patel at Le Meridien Hotel at 9.30 pm.

A little after 9.30 pm, Shri Siddharth Gautam, accompanied by his camerman Shri Sudesh arrived at my residence. They fitted hidden cameras behind the shirts worn by Shri Kulaste and Shri Baghora. Thereafter, Suhail took them Le Meridien Hotel. The CNN-IBN team and I tailed them in another car, which was parked outside the hotel. After about 40 minutes, Suhail came out along with the two MPs to say that Shri Patel had already left the hotel.

I then asked Suhail to reach his contacts in the Samajwadi Party.  Meanwhile, I accompanied the two MPs and the CNN-IBN team to go to the residence of Shri Argal at 4 Ferozshah Road. Here I met two more persons from CNN-IBN. One of them introduced himself as Shri Saif Kidwai, a producer with the channel. I do not know the name of the fourth member of the team. Shri Siddharth Gautam and his colleagues fitted hidden video and audio devices in the drawing room in Shri Argal’s house. There was also a listening device in an adjoining room.

Soon after midnight, Suhail brought Shri Reoti Raman Singh to Shri Argal’s house. Our three MPs were closeted with Shri Reoti Raman Singh for about 30 minutes in the drawing room. I sat with the CNN-IBN team in the adjoining room.

After Shri Reoti Raman Singh left, our three MPs told me about the conversation, the gist of which was as follows:

Shri Reoti Raman Singh had offered to take the three BJP MPs to meet Shri Amar Singh at the latter’s residence (27 Lodhi Estate) if they were agreeable to support the UPA Government. He also said that the “amount” to be paid to the MPs for doing so would be decided by Shri Amar Singh himself. The meeting with Shri Amar Singh could not take place that night since it was already too late. However, Shri Reoti Raman Singh said that the meeting could be arranged in the morning.

All of us left Shri Argal’s house at around 3 am and re-assembled at 7 am. About an hour later, in the morning of July 22, Suhail told me that he had telephonically contacted Shri Reoti Raman Singh, who said that Shri Amar Singh was waiting for the MPs at his residence. Accordingly, two MPs—Shri Argal and Shri Kulaste—left for Shri Amar Singh’s house along with Suhail. Shri Baghora could not go with them due to some prior engagement.

I asked Shri Siddharth Gautam if the two MPs or Suhail should go to Shri Amar Singh’s house with hidden cameras. He advised against this, saying it was risky since the SP leader was “well-versed with sting operations”. He told me that he would go ahead with a camera in a separate car to 27 Lodhi Estate to record the entry and exist of the MPs at Shri Amar Singh’s residence.

The two MPs and Suhail returned to Shri Argal’s residence at around 11 am. Sidharth and his colleague Saif also returned separately.

Shri Argal, Shri Kulaste and Suhail told me about the gist of their conversation with Shri Amar Singh:

The SP leader received them warmly and told them that he had already “managed” the support of 275-285 MPs. However, he would pay them, and also Shri Baghora, Rs 3 crore each if they abstained from the trust vote. He asked them to carry with them a token amount of Rs one crore, but the two MPs declined, saying that the money could be sent to Shri Argal’s house through an emissary. The remaining amount of Rs 8 crore, Shri Amar Singh assured them, would be paid to them after the trust vote. He also promised to send the token amount with his assistant within 10-15 minutes. During their meeting, Shri Amar Singh phoned Shri Ahmed Patel and said, “I have three more Kamals (Lotuses) here.” He gave the phone to the two MPs to speak to Shri Patel.

Within about 15 minutes, Suhail came into the adjoining room to inform me that an emissary of Shri Amar Singh, who identified himself as Sanjeev Saxena, had come with a token amount to be handed over to our MPs. He also mentioned that Saxena was accompanied by a young person in yellow shirt with long sleeves, adding that he (Suhail) had seen him both outside Shri Amar Singh’s gate and also inside. According to Suhail, this person, who carried the bag with an amount of Rs. 1 crore, appeared to be a member of Shri Amar Singh’s staff.

The emissary’s conversation with the MPs in the drawing room could be heard in the listening device in the adjoining room. The emissary left after about 20 minutes. It was only after his departure that the CNN-IBN team and I entered the drawing room to see our MPs in an exuberant mood. They showed a bag containing an amount of Rs. 1 crore, in ten bundles of Rs. 10 lakh each.

The CNN-IBN team filmed the serial numbers of the first and the last currency notes in the ten bundles. Shri Siddharth Gautam then interviewed with his regular camera the three MPs in the drawing room, with the amount of Rs. 1 crore displayed on the table. Although I was not in the room when the interview was being conducted, I could watch it by standing outside the door. Once the entire recording was over, the mood in the drawing hall turned celebratory.

The CNN-IBN team thanked the MPs, Suhail and me for our cooperation. We in turn thanked them for doing a highly professional job with commendable enthusiasm. I could make out from the triumphant mood of Shri Siddharth Gautam and his colleagues that they felt that they had achieved the biggest scoop of their careers, which was evident in Shri Siddharth Gautam’s own introduction to the promo that he shot with the bundles of cash and the three MPs in the background. In the intro he said, “For the first time in the history of Indian Parliament, CNN-IBN has captured on camera the proof of horsetrading of MPs…”

Both at night and in the morning, Shri Siddharth Gautam was in regular touch with his seniors in the CNN-IBN headquarters. After consulting with them, he told me that the entire recording would be telecast “within 2-3 hours”. More specifically, he assured that the telecast would start within a few minutes of the MPs displaying the currency notes inside Parliament.

The CNN-IBN team left Shri Argal’s house at around 12.30 pm. I asked Suhail to go Jaipur, his hometown, for a few days. After resting in Shri Argal’s house for some time, I left for Parliament to watch the trust-vote debate.

The information provided in this submission is factual, genuine and authentic. I believe that the truth about this murky scandal, which has lowered the prestige of the Indian Parliament, must be established on the basis of the abundant and irrefutable proof already available, and the guilty must be punished, through an impartial and thorough inquiry.

Regards,

Yours sincerely,

Sudheendra Kulkarni

17 Balwantrai Mehta Lane
New Delhi – 110 001

***

Postscript: After a long delay, CNN-IBN telecast the programme on the ‘Cash-for-Votes’ tapes on 11 August 2008. I would like to place on record my observation and belief that the channel has been less than truthful to its own investigation. It has concealed the truth about the involvement Shri Amar Singh and Congress leaders in the scandal by suppressing important sections of the recorded material.

For example, CNN-IBN has showed no clips of the meetings in Le Meridien Hotel, where Suhail had accompanied two BJP MPs to meet Shri Ahmed Patel. I wonder if it has submitted any tapes to the parliamentary committee about the Meridien part of the investigation.

CNN-IBN’s original alibi for not telecasting the tapes was that its investigation was “incomplete”. It is strange that between July 22 and August 11, it never deemed it necessary to contact either me or my colleague Suhail Hindustani for any questions related to further investigation in the matter. Suhail has affirmed this to me.

As submitted earlier in this letter, Suhail had told me that a person in yellow shirt who carried the amount of Rs. 1 crore, and accompanied Sanjeev Saxena to Shri Argal’s house, was also present at Shri Amar Singh’s house. He is clearly seen with Saxena in Shri Argal’s house in the programme telecast by CNN-IBN. He may perhaps be there on the tape submitted to the parliamentary committee, but the channel has not shown his presence near Shri Amar Singh’s house. If the tape actually shows his presence near Shri Amar Singh’s house, then it is an additional and crucial piece of evidence of Shri Amar Singh’s involvement in this scandal. His identity and role must be properly probed.

Also read: Was CNN-IBN right not to air Amar Singh sting?

CNN-IBN clarifies on role in cash-for-votes sting

Arun Jaitley: Channel tunnel vision

What Suhail Hindustani told cash-for-votes panel

What Suhail Hindustani told cash-for-votes panel

19 August 2008

The following is the English translation of the affidavit filed in Hindi by Suhail Ahmed, alias Suhail Hindustani, alias Raja Hindustani, the alleged go-between in the cash-for-votes scandal that rocked Parliament on July 22 on how the sting operation unfolded. (The translated version was emailed by Sudheendra Kulkarni to media organisations.)

***

12 August 2008

To
The Honourable Speaker
Lok Sabha
New Delhi

Subject: Witness statement in the ‘Cash-for-Votes’ scandal in Parliament on July 22, 2008 involving Shri Amar Singhji, General Secretary of the Samajwadi Party, Shri Ahmed Patelji, Political Secretary to the Congress President, and Shri Reoti Raman Singhji, MP and Samajwadi Party leader

***

Honourable Sir,

I am submitting this statement to your Honourable Self as a witness in the recent “Cash-for-Votes” scandal that rocked Parliament on July 22, 2008. All the information contained in this statement is based on Truth, and nothing but Truth, and I say this by invoking the name of Allah or God Almighty. My life is in threat, but I am ready to sacrifice my life for the Truth contained in this statement. My only wish is that my body may be buried near the Jama Masjid adjoining Parliament.

Let me introduce myself as a devoted Muslim and a patriotic Indian. My original name was Suhail Ahmed, which I later changed to Suhail Hindustani. I am a small-scale trader of gems and jewelry. I had a shop (Bobby Emporium, Shop No.6) in the shopping arcade of Janpath Hotel in New Delhi, which was closed down in April 2008. I hail from Jaipur. My parents and other members of my family live in Jaipur.

For the past nearly 15 years, I am also active as an ordinary social and political worker of the BJP. For many years I was a karyakarta in the BJP’s Yuva Morcha and have worked closely with Shri Shahnawaz Hussainji, MP, when he was a minister in Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji’s Government. My family in Rajasthan has a long association with the BJP and the Jana Sangh. My grandfather was indeed known as Shri Sageer Mian Janasanghi Peeli Topiwale, who worked in Tonk and Ajmer Sherif.

I have lived most of my life in Delhi in the official residence of some MP or the other. Besides my business, I do small errands and liaisoning work for MPs belonging to various parties. This, combined with the fact that I move around mostly in North Avenue and South Avenue, has enabled me to develop close acquaintances with people in various political parties and also with some in business circles. As a result, I have acquired good ground-level knowledge of the political developments in the corridors of power.

In early July, after the communist parties withdrew support to the UPA Government, the “market” (as the place for political wheeling-dealings is called) was abuzz with talk that opposition MPs would be offered huge amounts as bribes to either vote for the Government or abstain from voting. Some of the middlemen contacted me to find out if I knew any “plots” (codeword for MPs willing to cross-over for a consideration). I would ask them how much “paper” (codeword for the bribe amount) was on offer. Their reply — namely, that the amount was in the neighbourhood of Rs 20-25 crore — took me by surprise.

I had been closely following the debate on the nuclear deal. From what I understood of the issue, I came to the conclusion that it was not in India’s interests and that it was a sell-out to America. In particular, I was well aware of the strongly critical sentiments about the nuclear deal, and about the US President George Bush, that prevailed in my (Muslim) community. I was therefore angry that, in its bid to go ahead with the nuclear deal, the UPA Government was indulging in horse-trading in order to save itself in the trust vote.

Around this time, I came to know from the “market” that a large number (over 15) of BJP and NDA MPs were being targeted by Shri Ahmed Patelji, Shri Amar Singhji and other leaders of the Congress and Samajwadi Party. I felt that the victory of Dr Manmohan Singhji’s Government through defections from the BJP was neither good for the country nor good for the Party I support.

On July 17, I left for Bangalore by an Air Deccan flight for three days on some personal work. I returned to Delhi on July 20 by a morning Air Deccan flight and booked a room (no. 307) in the India Islamic Centre to conduct my operations from there. I contacted Shri S.P. Guptaji, an IAS officer of Haryana cadre who works closely with Shri Bhupinder Singh Hoodaji, Chief Minister of Haryana. He is the chief administrator of the Housing Board of Haryana. He was with me for over an hour at the coffee shop of the India Islamic Centre. He took the list of MPs from me and said, “I don’t want any money in this deal. But if your list of MPs is pucca, I will take you to meet Shri Hoodaji and Shri Ahmed Patelji, who will discuss the deal with you.”

While I was at the India Islamic Centre, a mushaira was being organised in the evening at the Centre’s auditorium. I met Shri Uday Pratap Singhji, a Samajwadi Party MP, (also known as ‘Guruji’, since he is known as the Guru of Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav) outside the auditorium. I have great regard for him as an elderly politician who is wise and experienced. I told him that I had a list of opposition MPs who could be approached to support the Government, and added, “Mera kuchh kaam kar do, Guruji,” (Guruji, please do me a favour.) When I gave him the list, he told me that this work was being handled by Shri Amar Singhji and that I should contact him through Shri Reoti Raman Singhji. Shri Uday Pratap Singhji took my number and said that Shri Reoti Raman Singhji would call me on my mobile.

It was at this time that I decided to do something big in life to expose the scandal of bribing MPs by pretending to act as a middleman.

On July 21, at around 11.30 am, I phoned Shri Sudheendra Kulkarniji, a senior BJP activist who was OSD in the PMO when Shri Vajpayeeji was the Prime Minister. (His mobile number is 9810*****2). I have considerable respect for him due to my acquaintance with him when he used to live in the party full-timers’ rooms in the BJP headquarters at 11 Ashoka Road. He now works with Shri Advaniji. Therefore, I felt that he was the right person for me to convey the message that over a dozen BJP MPs were being approached by Congress-SP leaders.

Shri Kulkarniji took the names of BJP MPs from me and called me back in an hour’s time to say that he wanted me to meet him as soon as possible.

In the afternoon, at around 1.30 pm, Shri Guptaji phoned me and asked me to meet him at Claridges Hotel. He promised to arrange my meeting with Shri Ahmed Patelji. As we were having soup in the restaurant, two persons came to meet us — Shri Lovely Singh (son of Shri Buta Singhji, former Home minister and Governor of Bihar) and Shri Aman Arora, who was introduced as Shri Lovely Singh’s friend. They came in a black-coloured Honda CRB car. They asked me about the list of “Plots” (MPs) I had and questioned me about my contacts in the BJP. Shri Guptaji prepared the list as per the names mentioned by me. Soon thereafter, Shri Lovely Singh put a call through to Shri Ahmed Patelji from his mobile and gave it to me to speak to him. Shri Patelji asked me to come to his house at 23 Willingdon Crescent at 7.30 pm along with my “Plots”. When I asked Shri Lovely Singh and Shri Aman Arora about their mobile number, both of them gave, strangely, the same number: 989******0.

Thereafter, I met Shri Kulkarniji and I gave him all the information I had. After posing many searching questions to me, he asked me, “What is your motive in giving this information to me?” Since I am from Rajasthan, I said, “I want to be Maharana Pratap, and not Mansingh. Raja Mansingh accepted the Mughal rule and, therefore, very few people in Rajasthan honour him today. In contrast, Maharana Pratap wandered in jungles, slept on the floor and ate rotis made of grass but did not surrender his self-respect before the Mughals. Therefore, tens of thousands of people gather every year to pay homage to him on his birth anniversary. I have seen this contrast with my own eyes.”

I told Shri Kulkarniji that I recalled these contrasting images when I was faced with two diametrically opposite options: either to pocket a few crore rupees by betraying the country and acting as a dalal in the horse-trading of MPs, or to show courage and earn the blessings of Allah.”

My words increased the trust and confidence that Shri Kulkarniji had developed in me. He then asked me if I would facilitate the whistle-blowing operation by a few BJP MPs to expose the bribery scandal. I readily and enthusiastically agreed. He asked me, “Aap ki pahunch kahan tak hai?” (How high-level are your contacts?). I offered to take the MPs to Shri Ahmed Patelji and Shri Amar Singhji. I told him that I had come to know from my contacts in the “market” that both were active in settling deals with non-UPA MPs willing to defy their respective party whips and support the Government.

Late in the afternoon of July 21, Shri Kulkarniji introduced me to three BJP Members of Parliament (Lok Sabha) — Shri Ashok Argalji, Shri Mahavir Baghoraji and Shri Faggan Singh Kulasteji. Shri Kulkarni also told me that a team from CNN-IBN was coming soon to work closely with the three MPs, record their whistle-blowing operation and telecast it.

My contacts in the Congress and SP circles were excited when I told them that three BJP MPs were willing to cross over. As mentioned earlier, Shri Lovely Singh had arranged my meeting with Shri Ahmed Patelji at 7.30 pm at the latter residence on Willingdon Crescent. Since the CNN-IBN team had not yet arrived, I requested for the meeting to be rescheduled. I was then informed that I could bring the MPs to meet Shri Ahmed Patelji to Le Meridien Hotel.

The CNN-IBN team, comprising Shri Siddharth Gautam, reporter, and Shri Sudesh, cameraman, arrived at Shri Kulkarniji’s residence at around 10.00 pm. They fitted hidden cameras behind the shirts worn by Shri Kulasteji and Shri Baghoraji, after which I took them to Meridien Hotel at around 11.00 pm. All three of us were driving in Shri Kulasteji’s vehicle bearing the MP’s label.  Shri Argalji stayed behind at Shri Kulkarniji’s residence.

Upon reaching the hotel, Shri Lovely Singh told me that Shri Ahmed Patelji had left about 10 minutes earlier after having waited for the BJP MPs for quite some time. There were many Congress leaders in the lobby of the Hotel and the atmosphere was that of a ‘Ghodon ki Mandi’ (horses’ market). I am constrained to state here that, in CNN-IBN’s August 11 telecast of its sting operation on the ‘Cash-for-Votes’ scandal, the channel hid the information from its viewers that the visit to Meridien Hotel was to meet Shri Ahmed Patelji. The channel also showed no clips of the Congress leaders whom the two BJP MPs and I met in the hotel lobby.

From Meridien, we drove back to the residence of Shri Ashok Argalji at 4 Ferozshah Road.  Apart from Shri Argalji and Shri Kulkarniji, I met two other persons from CNN-IBN there. One was Shri Saif Kidwai, who introduced himself as a producer, and a colleague of his whose name I do not know. Shri Siddharth Gautam of CNN-IBN told us that instead of going out to meet anybody with hidden cameras, it was better to invite the person to a safe room since the quality of recording would be much better. Accordingly, his team fitted cameras behind curtains in the drawing room in Shri Argalji’s house, and a listening device in an adjoining room.

After our failure to meet Shri Ahmed Patelji, I focused my efforts on meeting Shri Amar Singhji. When I contacted Shri Reoti Raman Singhji at his residence (telephone no: 2378 2233) from my mobile (no. 999******0), he agreed to meet the three BJP MPs at Shri Argalji’s house. Shri Reoti Raman Singhji came at around 12.30. I introduced him to the three MPs. He told them that their interests would be taken care of if they agreed to support the Government. The MPs asked him how much they would be paid. He replied that the amount would be decided by Shri Amar Singhji and promised to take them to meet the SP leader. This entire meeting and conversation has been recorded by the CNN-IBN team on their hidden cameras.

During this meeting, I was partly inside Shri Argalji’s drawing room and partly in the adjoining room where Shri Siddharth Gautam, Shri  Saif Kidwai, Shri Sudesh and the fourth member from the CNN-IBN team were listening to the conversation in the drawing room. Shri Kulkarniji was also present in the adjoining room.

Since it was late in the night, the MPs refused to go to Shri Amar Singhji’s house. However, Shri Reoti Raman Singhji phoned me the next morning, on July 22, and said that Shri Amar Singhji was waiting for the MPs at his residence (27 Lodhi Estate). Accordingly, I accompanied two MPs—Shri Argalji and Shri Kulasteji—to Shri Amar Singhji’s residence. I was wearing green half-trousers and a white t-shirt. Shri Baghoraji stayed behind at 4 Ferozshah Road. This was around 10 am.

We drove in a white Maruti Zen (DL 5CC 7218). My friend Hashmat Ali was driving the car. I was sitting on the front seat next to the driver’s. Shri Argalji and Shri Kulasteji were sitting on the back seats. Shri Sidharth Gautam told us that he would travel ahead of us in a CNN-IBN car and capture on his camera our entry into, and exit out of, Shri Amar Singhji’s house.

Shri Amar Singhji welcomed the three of us warmly and treated us to dates and dry grapes. He was wearing white pyjama and a kurta of sky-blue colour. Thanking me for bringing the two MPs to meet him, he claimed that he had already “managed” the support of 275-285 MPs to ensure the survival of the UPA Government. Nevertheless, since Shri Reoti Raman Singhji had arranged the meeting, he would pay Rs. 3 crore to each MP if they abstained from the trust vote. At this point, Shri Argalji and Shri Kulasteji mentioned to him that they had one more BJP MP willing to abstain. Shri Amar Singhji told them that he would pay the same amount to Shri Baghoraji.

After this, Shri Amar Singhji spoke to somebody and informed that person that three more BJP MPs had agreed to abstain from voting. Once the conversation was over, he told us, “Aap ke baare mein main ne PM ko bata diya hai.” (I have informed the PM about you.) He then phoned Shri Ahmed Patelji from his mobile and said, “I have three more Kamals (Lotuses) here.” He made the two MPs speak to Shri Ahmed Patelji. From the conversation I could make out that Shri Amar Singhji and Shri Ahmed Patelji were working in a coordinated manner.

Shri Amar Singhji offered to pay the MPs a token amount of Rs. one crore and asked them to carry it with them. Shri Argalji and Shri Kulasteji said, “Hum nahin le jayenge. Bahar mediawalen khade hain.” (We won’t take it with us since mediapersons are standing outside your house.) Shri Amar Singhji then promised to send the amount with his assistant, Shri Sanjeev Saxena, within 10-15 minutes. The remaining amount of Rs. 8 crore, he assured them, would be paid to them after the trust vote.

As we were coming out of his drawing room, I told Shri Amar Singhji, “Thakur Sahab, aap Thakur ho kar Marwadi ki tarah baat karte ho. Teen karod to bahut kum rakam hain.” (Thakur Sahab, being a Thakur you are talking like a Marwadi. Three crores is too small an amount.) He smiled at me and said, “Aap der se aaye. Raat ko MPs ko le aate to Ahmedbhai bhi yahin pe the.” (You came late. If you had brought the MPs last night, Ahmed Patel was also here and they would have met him.” I then asked him, “Thakur Sahab, mera kya hoga?” (What about my share?) He said, “Aap ka saamaan hum ne Golf Course mein rakha hai. Vahan jaa ke utha lena.” (Your amount is kept at Golf Course. Pick it up from there.)

While entering Shri Amar Singh’s house, I had seen Shri Siddharth Gautam and his colleague Shri Saif Kidwai. Also present were reporters and cameramen from several other TV channels. While I was inside Shri Amar Singhji’s drawing room, Shri Siddharth Gautam (his mobile no. is 989******1) phoned me on my mobile (999******0) and said, “Please tell me what time you are leaving Shri Amar Singh’s house, so that I’ll be ready to shoot your car coming out of the house. I want to tell you that a lot of other mediapersons are also standing here.” This can be checked from my mobile call records and those of Shri Siddharth Gautam. We left Shri Amar Singh’s house at 10.48 am.

We left Shri Amar Singhji’s house to return to Shri Argal’s house at around 10.30 am. Within 15 minutes, his assistant Shri Sanjeev Saxena, accompanied by a well-built person, arrived at 4 Ferozshah Road in a white Gypsy car no. DL-3C-S-8562. The number was noted by a member of Shri Argalji’s staff. Before ushering Shri Saxena and his colleague (who was carrying two pistols hidden behind his clothes) into the drawing room, I told him, “Meri Shri Amar Singhji se baat karao, yeh maal bahut kum hai. Hum is par sauda nahin karenge.” (Make me speak to Shri Amar Singhji, because this amount is too small. We’ll not do not do the deal at this rate.”) Shri Saxena put the call through to Shri Amar Singhji, who told me that he would double the rate to Rs 6 crore per MP. “If this is acceptable, the deal is on. Otherwise, I’ll ask my man to return immediately.”

I replied that the deal was acceptable. However, I did not have the time to communicate this part of the conversation with Shri Amar Singhji (about the rate being hiked from Rs. 3 crore to Rs. 6 crore) to the three MPs (who were inside the drawing room) as the next stage of the operation took place swiftly.

I then ushered Shri Saxena and his colleague into the drawing room in Shri Argal’s house, which had already been bugged by the CNN-IBN team with hidden cameras. His colleague was wearing a yellow-coloured shirt with long sleeves. I had seen this person, who looked like a security guard, at Shri Amar Singh’s house. He was carrying a small revolver hidden beneath his shirt. Shri Saxena had carried the money in a dark green bag and removed ten bundles of Rs. 10 lakhs each, most of it in currency notes of Rs. 1000, and placed them on a table.

After this, Shri Argalji introduced Shri Baghoraji to Shri Saxena as the third MP. Shri Baghoraji wanted to speak to Shri Amar Singhji for direct confirmation of the remaining amount to be paid. Shri Saxena tried to connect Shri Amar Singhji’s telephone number, which was repeatedly coming engaged. Finally, he got all three MPs to speak to Shri Amar Singhji. After this, I asked Shri Saxena for his mobile number, saying that I would like to remain in touch with him in future for any “chhota-mota kaam”. The number that Shri Saxena gave me was 981******9. The CNN-IBN team has recorded these happenings on its hidden cameras.

After Shri Sanjeev Saxena left Shri Argal’s house, the CNN-IBN team filmed the serial numbers of the first and the last currency notes in the ten bundles. Shri Siddharth Gautam then interviewed with his regular camera the three MPs in the drawing room, with the amount of Rs. 1 crore displayed on the table. Shri Kulkarniji and I were not in the room when the interview was being conducted. But we watched it by standing outside near the door.

Thereafter, the three MPs packed the amount in two separate bags and left for Parliament. By this time, mediapersons had already started to arrive at Shri Argalji’s house. I, therefore, quietly sneaked out of the house, took a local bus to Dhaula Kuan, from where I boarded another bus at 2.30 pm to go to Jaipur. I arrived in Jaipur at around 7.30 pm.

I watched TV at around 8.00 pm and learnt that the Government had won the trust vote by securing 275 votes in its favour with 256 votes against and 10 abstentions. I was deeply disappointed. I switched to CNN-IBN to see if it was showing the tape of the sting operation. Although the channel was showing (indeed, all other channels were showing) the three MPs displaying the notes inside Parliament, there was no sign of the sting tape. I asked some people if the channel had shown the tape earlier. They had no knowledge of it. My disappointment and anger knew no bounds. I felt that the channel had betrayed the trust of the three MPs as well as the trust of all those who had facilitated the exposure of this bribery scandal.

All the information in this statement is true and factual. I am ready to be cross-examined by your Honourable Self or by the members of the inquiry committee appointed by you.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Suhail Hindustani

213 A, MS Flats Quarters
Opposite R.M.L. Hospital
Baba Kharak Singh Marg
New Delhi – 1100 001

***

Also read: Was CNN-IBN right not to air Amar Singh sting?

CNN-IBN clarifies on role in cash-for-votes sting

Arun Jaitley: Channel tunnel vision

Sudheendra Kulkarni: What I told the cash-for-votes scam probe panel


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