India Insight

Wikileaks cash for votes allegations implicate India’s Congress

India’s ruling Congress party offered cash for votes to pass a crucial 2008 confidence vote in parliament, a secret U.S. state cable released on Thursday said, embroiling Manmohan Singh’s beleaguered government in yet another corruption scandal that risks further opposition attacks on the graft-smeared coalition. File photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaking to the media after his government won a vote of confidence in parliament in New Delhi July 22, 2008. REUTERS/B Mathur

File photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaking to the media after his government won a vote of confidence in parliament in New Delhi July 22, 2008. REUTERS/B Mathur

The secret U.S. state department cable obtained by WikiLeaks and published by The Hindu newspaper on Thursday details a conversation between a senior Congress party member and a U.S. Embassy official surrounding the payment of almost $9 million by a government facing a crucial confidence vote to members of a regional political party to secure their support.

While the cable could not be independently verified by Reuters, its contents threaten to expose illegal practices that many fear are part and parcel of Indian politics.

Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj, who has in recent months led a scathing attack on the Congress party-led coalition government for failing to tackle corruption in India, posted on Twitter: “The wikileaks details in today’s Hindu about payoffs to MPs are shocking. I will raise this issue in Parliament today.”

Obama in the White House – will he deliver?

Barack Obama takes over as the 44th U.S. President riding the optimism of millions of people and inheriting a recession and two wars that will test his skills.

Hopes are high the 47-year-old can conjure up a rescue that will jolt the world’s biggest economy back to life and contain the financial crisis ravaging global markets.

As far as India is concerned, there are apprehensions the Obama administration may place curbs on its outsourcing industry, ban any future nuclear tests and resurrect the Kashmir question.

Obama or McCain – who is better for India?

Like much of the world waiting to find out who leads the United States as its president for the next four years, India too looks askance at the mother of all elections.

While some believe India-U.S. relations have evolved to a strategic level where it does not matter who is at the helm of affairs, a debate rages on whether Obama or McCain will be good for the South Asia region, and India in specific.

As in the U.S., in India the balance seems to tilt in favour of Obama. His backers say he will be a welcome change from the stifling neoconservatism of the Bush administration and its heavy-breathing belligerence.

  •