Police: 4 lawmakers charged in India bribe scandal

AP News
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Posted: Aug 24, 2011 9:18 AM
Police: 4 lawmakers charged in India bribe scandal

Four Indian lawmakers were charged Wednesday for their role in an alleged cash-for-votes scandal during a crucial confidence vote the ruling Congress party faced in 2008, a police official said.

The four men charged were Amar Singh, Ashok Argal, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora, said a senior police official who declined to be named because he wasn't allowed to speak to reporters.

Socialist Party lawmaker Amar Singh has been accused of bribing three legislators from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party to vote in favor of the government. The police official didn't give more detail about the charges each man faced.

Wednesday's news comes as a scandal-plagued government struggles to find a solution to end an eight-day hunger strike by a popular activist demanding strict anti-corruption legislation.

Anna Hazare's fast has drawn tens of thousands of corruption-weary Indians to his protest in the heart of the capital and inspired smaller rallies across India.

The alleged bribery scandal in Parliament first surfaced in March when a leaked U.S. diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks said the Congress party bribed lawmakers ahead of the vote over a nuclear deal with the United States.

The cable from a U.S. Embassy official said a Congress party functionary showed him two cases full of cash meant to bribe lawmakers to vote with the party.

An Indian newspaper report alleged the lawmakers were paid $2.5 million each to buy their support.

Days after the cable's contents were reported, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Parliament that no one from the government or the ruling party bribed lawmakers during the vote.

The government has been hit by a series of corruption scandals in recent months related to the selling of mobile phone spectrum and the conduct of last year's Commonwealth Games.