NEW DELHI // India's opposition forced parliament to adjourn yesterday and demanded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh resign over a WikiLeaks report that his party paid bribes to win a confidence vote in 2008, a fresh blow to the scandal-tainted coalition.
The Hindu newspaper, quoting US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, said a ruling Congress party official told a US diplomat they had a fund of 500 to 600 million rupees (Dh41m to Dh49m) to pay off legislators in 2008.
The WikiLeaks report said the Congress official had shown the diplomat two chests of cash and said four politicians of a regional party had been paid 100 million rupees each to secure their support.
Analysts said the report was unlikely to affect the stability of the government, given the charges were old and that the new revelations could be written off as the personal perception of a diplomat that could not hold in a court of law.
It added,however, to the woes of a government already under fire for a slew of corruption cases.
DH Pai Panandikar, the head of the New Delhi-based think tank RPG Foundation, said: "It is embarrassing for the government, but it is not that serious. Nobody is going to vote against the government on this."
The WikiLeaks report seemed to back earlier charges by the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that the vote was bought, and added pressure to Mr Singh.
The BJP leader, Sushma Swaraj, said Mr Singh's government had lost its legitimacy.
"This government has been under attack for the last three months, but this is a hammer blow that it cannot recover from," Ms Swaraj said in parliament. "It has lost all moral responsibility to govern."
The speaker of the house was forced to suspend proceedings for the day after BJP members of parliament noisily demanded Mr Singh resign.
The WikiLeaks report adds to a long list of scandals, led by charges that the former telecoms minister took bribes to dole out lucrative phone licences at rock bottom prices. That cost the state coffers as much as 1.7 trillion rupees in lost revenue, the government auditor has estimated.
Political protests over the scandals have led to economic reforms, such as opening up the supermarket sector for foreign investors and the deregulation of diesel prices, being put on the back burner.
"[The aide] mentioned money was not an issue at all, but the crucial thing was to ensure that those who took the money would vote for the government," the newspapers quoted from the cable.
Another Congress official told the diplomat that "PM Singh and others" had tried get a businessman to persuade a regional official to support the government, but had failed, the newspaper reported.
The finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, said the government could not confirm or deny the report. A spokeswoman of the US Embassy in New Delhi said they did not comment on classified material and could not comment on the report's authenticity.