The cash-for-votes scandal is a scandal in which the United Progressive Alliance, the majority-holding parliamentary-party alliance of India led by Manmohan Singh, allegedly bribed Indian MPs in order to survive a confidence vote on 22 July 2008. The vote in the Lok Sabha arose after the Communist Party of India led Left Front withdrew support from the government, who wanted to pursue an Indo-US nuclear deal.
The CPI(M) objected to a proposal that would see the United States supply nuclear technology to India in return for India agreeing to United Nations inspections of its nuclear programs and the splitting of the civil and military aspects of those programs. CPI(M) believed that this would cause India to be effectively subservient to the US. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also objected, on the grounds that the inspections could impede development of the country's nuclear arms program. The vote was won by the government in the face of the predominantly left-wing and Hindu nationalist objections. It had been arguing that the nuclear infrastructure needed to be developed more rapidly because the existing electric generation facilities were incapable of meeting growing demand.
The government's success in the 2008 confidence vote was marred when three BJP MPs, including Ashok Argal, waved bundles of cash which they produced from bags in parliament during the debate, accusing the government of giving it to them in order to buy their support or abstention in the vote. The BJP demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the allegations and claimed that they had video evidence of the deals being made, while the CPI(M) leader said that "Practically every member of parliament has been approached with offers of money and inducements." The government denied the allegations, pointing out that Argal would have self-incriminated himself by admitting to receiving a bribe. The Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee, asked New Delhi's police chief to investigate.
A fortnight later, on 2 August, the BJP offered "documentary evidence" to support its allegation that Argal, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahaveer Bhagora had been bribed. The evidence included transcripts of video recordings and explanatory letters from two of the MPs, all of which was passed to the investigatory committee that had been set up by parliament. The BJP also criticised CNN-IBN, who had recorded the BJP MP's attempt to sting the government but had not broadcast it.
The tapes were broadcast on 12 August 2008 after CNN-IBN had made its appearance before the investigating committee. The company had resisted the calls for an earlier broadcast on the grounds of legal opinion that it had not yet attended the committee and that the broadcast might prejudice the investigatory process.
The parliamentary investigation began on 30 July 2008 and has frequently been referred to as the Kishore Chandra Deo committee. The committee reported in December 2008 that it had found no evidence of bribery in the case of Rajya Sabha members Amar Singh and Ahmad Patel. They had been accused of offering the bribes, and Singh was a prominent member of the Samajwadi Party (SP) which had begun to support the government at the time when the Left Front moved to oppose it. The committee also recommended further investigation into the activities of Sanjeev Saxena, Sohail Hindustani and Sudheendra Kulkarni. Saxena was an aide to Amar Singh, Kulkarni had a similar role for the BJP leader, L. K. Advani and Hindustani was a Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activist. Some committee members distanced themselves from the report's full conclusions but agreed that the additional investigation was needed. The report concluded that the video evidence relating to a car at Singh's house was insufficient proof: it was not possible to determine who was in the car and "It does not prove what transpired inside the house. There is nothing to show that money was offered for voting in favour of the motion of confidence or for abstaining from voting."
A police investigation was instigated in January 2009 to look into the issues relating to Saxena, Hindustani and Kulkarni which had been recommended in the report of the parliamentary committee.
Saxena was arrested on 17 July, two days after the police had been lambasted by the Court. The police claimed to have sufficient evidence to prove that he had delivered money to the three BJP MPs and alleged that he had misled both their enquiry and that of parliament. They also announced that they had interviewed Bhahora and Kulaste, who were no longer MPs, but that their ability to interview Argal was hampered because he was still in office. They had applied to the Home Ministry for permission to interview him and Amar Singh, still a member of the Rajya Sabha, and further announced that they intended to re-interview Hindustani. The developments caused Deo to clarify that his committ