New Delhi, July 23 : A morning which was largely expected to carry newspaper reports reflecting the Congres-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA)'s thumping victory in the vote of confidence, but on the contrary, the cash for vote allegations' episode dominated the headlines.
Almost all leading newspapers in India, while approving the Government's 275 to 256 vote victory, raised serious concerns over Bharatiya Janata Party MPs' bribe allegations and their waiving of wads of currency notes in the sanctum sanctorum of the Lower House.
Carrying a banner headline--"Bribery Drama Eclipses UPA Win"-the Business Standard in its editorial titled: "Trust or legitimacy?" stated that "Tuesday turned out to be one of the blackest days in the history of India's Parliament."
"The issue before the country today is not whether the government has the confidence of the Lok Sabha, but whether the country's political system has lost its legitimacy," the editorial commented.
The Hindustan Times used a bold "Shame" above its main headline-PM wins, but Parliament plumbs to new depths-in its editorial "The bar's not been lowered, it's blown away" left hardly anything to be read further for the avid readers.
The daily stated: "What was on display on Tuesday left one speechless as we still collectively search for a new word that signifies 'the saddest of sad days'. It is no longer enough to say that Parliament has sunk to a new low. Regardless of whether the shocking allegation is proved correct or not, on Tuesday a door had been kicked in, a bar, already depressingly low, was blown away."
"On Tuesday, we gazed into the House where Indian democracy resides on our behalf. And something ugly stared back at us," stated Hindustan Times glumly in the editorial's concluding remarks."
The Times of India carried the banner headline-UPA Amar Rahe, But At a Price (May UPA lasts eternally, but at a price). In its lead story titled "Govt Sails Through But Is Bruised By Vote Buying Charges" the daily stated how the UPA's 19-vote victory came after the murkiest contests in parliamentary history-a contest in which charges of bribery and misuse of CBI drowned all other substantive issues on debate.
In its editorial titled "A Necessary Victory", the TOI remarked that the allegations of bribing MPs were serious charges, if proven. But the MPs ought to have gone to the Speaker or the police, as a determination of their veracity is hardly likely to be made on the floor of Parliament.
Its suggestion to the Manmohan Singh Government was: "But once the dust has settled, it's also time to get on with the business of governance. There are pressing tasks ahead for the government."
"Now that the government has passed the floor test and is no longer dependent on the Left for support, it's imperative that it makes up for the time lost and presses ahead with long delayed reforms," the daily added.
The Pioneer carried the banner headline "UPA wins vote, loses trust" and pointed out how it was another shocking display of how money power is used to save Governments.
Commenting through its editorial "A pyrrhic victory", the Pioneer stated that the Congress had lost moral authority.
Stating that the Congress has a reason to celebrate, as has the Prime Minister, but " It will be no exaggeration to suggest that the Prime Minister and his Cabinet stand denuded of moral authority and the power they will henceforth wield will be seen as tainted if not illegitimate."
"It is at best a pyrrhic victory which will delight only those who have scant regard and even lesser respect for ethics and probity in politics," it added. The daily, however, blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party for putting up a half-hearted show to defeat the UPA government. It stated: "The quarry was in sight, the goal was achievable, but the BJP floundered, and miserably so."
Commenting on the bribe allegations, the Pioneer remarked: "It would be wrong to attribute the UPA's success entirely to Parliament being reduced to Bazar. The BJP, despite its bluster, has once again failed abysmally to fulfill its role as the main Opposition party. Its leadership appeared divided on the issue of defeating the Government; its political management and coordination left much to be desired; and, notwithstanding Mr. L.K. Advani's sharp attack, it failed to enthuse its MPs to close ranks and act in a determined manner."
The Statesman in its lead story-The Ayes Have It-stated: "In one of the murkiest and most disgraceful moment of the Indian Parliament's history, when wads of crisp notes rent the air amid claims on an alleged cash-for-votes scandal on the floor of the Lok Sabha, the Manmohan Singh Government sailed through its vote of confidence this evening."
In its editorial, it avoided making doomsday predictions about the future of Indian democracy. Rather, it chose to focus on the importance of Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee opting to stay away from the trust vote process, and how mightily pleased the UPA was with that stand. By Sandeep Datta