* WikiLeaks disclosures latest scandal
* Parliament adjourned for second day over allegations
(Adds Prime Minister statement)
By C.J. Kuncheria and Henry Foy
NEW DELHI, March 18 Indian Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh said on Friday that no government members were
involved in vote-buying to win a confidence vote in 2008 and
doubted the veracity of the claims, defying resignation calls
over the issue.
The scandal over cash for votes is unlikely to immediately
endanger Singh's government, but it increases the pressure on
Singh already battling allegations of graft in cases ranging
from grant of telecom licenses to apartments for war widows.
The opposition forced parliament to adjourn for a few hours
on Friday, demanding Singh resign after a U.S. diplomatic cable
obtained by WikiLeaks said his ruling Congress party paid
bribes to win the confidence vote in parliament.
"No one from the Congress Party or the government indulged
in any unlawful act during the trust vote ... The government
rejects the allegation as absolutely false," Singh said in a
statement to India's upper house of parliament.
"I have not authorised anyone to purchase any votes," Singh
told a conference earlier on Friday.
Newspaper editorials said the report was unlikely to affect
government stability as the charges were old.
But with Singh's reputation as an honest elder statesman
tarnished, the political space for reforms such as opening up
the supermarket sector to foreign investors and the
deregulation of diesel prices will further shrink, analysts
The U.S. diplomatic cable said a senior Congress party
official told an embassy official that four lawmakers of a
regional party had been paid 100 million rupees ($2.2 million)
each to secure their support in the vote, which Singh won.
The report's contents were "unverified and unverifiable,"
Singh told lawmakers. A spokeswoman of the U.S. embassy in New
Delhi said they did not comment on classified material and
could not comment on the report's authenticity.
The Congress party has been hit by a series of corruption
scandals, chiefly a $39 billion telecoms scam in which mobile
phone licenses were sold at rock bottom prices. The
telecommunications minister A. Raja has been sacked and is in
prison facing charges.
The government is also battling a loans-for-bribes bank
scandal and allegations that apartments meant for war widows
were diverted to bureaucrats.
The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party which has
stepped up pressure on the coalition said Singh had lost the
moral responsibility to govern following the latest
(Addtional reporting by Manoj Kumar; Editing by Alistair
Scrutton and Sanjeev Miglani)