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‘How much is there' 50 lakh'’

The compact disc that led to the dismissal of land revenue minister Madhu Singh was received on Tuesday from unidentified sources, claims local newspaper Ranchi Express, which published the report.

The newspaper has refrained from disclosing the identity of the mysterious candidate who apparently coughed up Rs 50 lakh as “50 per cent advance” to mobilise 10 members of the Jharkhand Assembly to propose his name for the Rajya Sabha. He would have required the support of 26 legislators to be elected and evidently would have paid more but for the failure of the minister to marshal 10 MLAs who were needed for him to file his nomination.

It is not clear if the transcript, as published by the newspaper, is an edited version or a verbatim record of the conversation among a group of people. The entire CD, it is claimed, is of 25 minutes’ duration but the published transcript is an excerpt. The transcript, partly reproduced below in translation, only identifies the voice of the minister and appears abrupt. It also leaves some unanswered questions.

Voice: From where will the money come'

Voice: From Rourkela…

Minister: Money must be paid immediately. Whoever signs will take 10; only when they receive this will they…

Voice: The money will reach by evening. Please go ahead and get the nomination papers signed.

Minister: (It will be signed) only when you pay. I have full trust in you but others need not trust me. Somebody might even suspect Madhu Singh has grabbed part of the payment.

Voice: Will Namdhari Singh (Inder Singh Namdhari) also sign'

Minister: He is the Speaker, so he will not sign.

Voice: Money will arrive by 12 noon and so nomination can be filed by 3 pm.

Voice: We also need someone to get the nomination forms.

Minister: I have the form… all the forms; all that is to be done is to fill them up. Those who do the work must make all the arrangements… why should you bother'

Voice: (on mobile phone) I will meet you in 10-15 minutes.

Minister: Don’t meet anyone; keep everything confidential. CID and Special Branch are both alert to such things… if they get to know, they would raid the hotel and demand that they be paid 50 per cent of the amount. You have to be careful.

Minister: We are paying 50 per cent to those who agree to put their signature. The rest we will see once they actually cast their votes. I am the chief whip of the party so I will have to be present and witness the voting. Legislators of the RJD and Congress are unlikely to oblige. We have to fall back on Independents. There are seven of us and three more will have to be mobilised. Everything is ready and everyone is waiting.

Voice: Let’s return at 12 noon; by then everything will be ready. (Pause)

Minister: How much is there' 50 lakh'

Voice: There was some miscalculation, it seems. There is 49 lakh but we are adding the balance… why don’t you count'

Minister: Deals depend on trust. I have faith in you.

Voice: No, no. You must count and make sure.

Minister: I trust the currency has not been stamped with the bank’s seal' Tear off the ones with the seal…

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