Storm over retired Swedish police chief interview
A recent interview given to journalist Chitra Subramaniam-Duella by the retired Swedish police chief Sten Lindström, who blew the lid off the Bofors scandal a quarter century ago, provided fodder on Wednesday for both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Congress used it to stress there was no evidence to show that the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had taken a bribe; the BJP seized on another section of the interview in which the former Swedish police chief says Rajiv Gandhi didn't stop the cover-up to protect Italian businessman, Ottavio Quattrocchi, the main accused in the case.
With the interview pushing the Bofors issue into the public domain again, the Congress rushed to try and put its ghosts to rest again. “It has been proved again that Rajivji was innocent. This is an issue which has traumatised the nation, hurt the family of Rajiv Gandhi and Congressmen,” Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid said, urging closure of the issue. To a question on the BJP's decision to raise the Bofors pay-offs issue in Parliament, Mr. Khurshid said the Opposition should read the judgments of the Supreme Court and the High Court in the case carefully, and make a public apology for making wild allegations against Rajiv Gandhi.
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley raised the issue at a BJP Parliamentary Party meeting in the morning. Later, taking a swipe at Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the BJP's chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said no matter what it did, the government's ‘Italian connection' kept “popping up,” and demanded that the Congress government, which had “pressured” the Central Bureau of Investigation to tell the Supreme Court there was no evidence against Mr. Quattrocchi, apologise to the nation.
Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta, too, jumped on the government, accusing it of lacking the political will to expose the guilty. “It is a slur on the image of the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan expressed delight at the fact that her husband Amitabh Bachchan's name had been cleared in the Bofors case: “Whatever you have published today we knew that 25 years ago, but justice takes its own time, and God takes his own time to reveal the truth…This should serve as a lesson that nothing should be done in haste.”