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Updated: April 26, 2012 02:17 IST

Congress, BJP lock horns over Bofors again

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An Indian army soldier sits on a Bofors howitzer during an exercise at Nakodar in Punjab. File photo
An Indian army soldier sits on a Bofors howitzer during an exercise at Nakodar in Punjab. File photo

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.”

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The BJP is also involved in this, probably they also got funds from Hinduja brothers through Mr L K Advani, why they did not bring up questtion in parliament when the cases were dropped against Qutrochi.They always bring this gimmick at the time of election, but it is not going to help them

from:  nikhil
Posted on: Apr 26, 2012 at 18:31 IST

While agreeing with Shaun Warren's views, I feel that the media has also to act responsibly. In the world of competition, each new recruit is out to win fame thru some expose. And, in that mad rush, people's reputations are tarnished for ever. If Rajiv Gandhi was not in any way corruptly involved in the Bofors deal, will Ms.Chitra restore the reputation and goodwill that he lost? It is not just with Rajiv alone. Sometimes, I am astonished at the way young anchors on TV discussions speak about earlier leaders like Indira who had the courage to stand against the mighty US in 1970s even while India was importing foodgrains from US. How far have our great nation progressed. But no one notices and whines and whines. Had Rajiv been allowed to run the country, what all progress we could have witnessed. Still remember critics laughing at Rajiv's advisers as computer kids, while now no one moves around without latest gadgets. It is not just the politicians, the media too should mature.

from:  george
Posted on: Apr 26, 2012 at 12:01 IST

Hi Mr.Mohanraj, I totally differ from your opinion that left front have not involved in any scam so far.I can point out definitely some in the state they are ruling.

from:  Anoop
Posted on: Apr 26, 2012 at 11:51 IST

While Rajiv Gandhi may not have had a direct role in Bofors scam, his silence was
questionable. Why was Quottrocchi cleared time and again by congress government when there was clinching evidence agaist him iin the scam as confirmed by Lindstrom, the Swedish Police Chief. Moreover who ordered the defreezing of his bank account? Who sent the Deputy attorney general to U.K. To do this dirty job? There is more to it than the eyes meet.

from:  Krishnan Natarajan
Posted on: Apr 26, 2012 at 08:50 IST

It is pity that almost all of opposition ( predominantly BJP ) was in power post Bofors scandal broke out in 1987 . However neither of them had the politicala will ,administrative acumen and legal transparency to ensure a speedy trail and bring the guilty to justice . Therfore their claims soung hollow .As far as congress is concerned they are only concerned with Rajiv's name .But they cant discown the moral,legal and constitutional responsibility of having messed up in this case

from:  Raman Koul
Posted on: Apr 26, 2012 at 08:38 IST

The Bofors case, after a quarter century, is proving to be a shame for
the country. On the one hand, there is the official machinery trying
to prove the innocence of the then leadership while, on the other
hand, there is fresh evidence saying that things were otherwise.

It forces one to look at a broader issue. Should the Legislature be
de-linked from the Executive? If leaders themselves could be law
breakers, should we not keep them totally aloof from any political
power? If the Executive takes charge of what it needs to do, the
Legislature will be an independent body, with a political stand. This
will safeguard the talent in the Executive and will ensure that the
Legislative positions are taken up only by those who are truly willing
to serve the country. The nexus needs to be attacked: be it the CBI or
any other body.
Question is: Who and why should someone bell the cat? And will this
change really sustain the 'functional insulation' required by the
country for cases like Bofors?

from:  Nikhil S. Gurjar
Posted on: Apr 26, 2012 at 07:33 IST

The Opposition parties and The Hindu newspaper ought to hang its head in
shame, after the "Infamous Swedish Deep Throat" admitted that there was no evidence that Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had taken any bribe and that the story around Amitabh Bacchan was a "plant". The Hindu had particularly gone overboard with the story then, and Ms.Chitra Subramaniam heaped so called evidence after evidence to convince the nation that Late Rajiv Gandhi had indeed taken the bribe. The result of such acts was that the nation nearly went into ruins, with political opponents, most notably Late V.P.Singh took advantage of the opportunity, to become the PM himself, along with other opportunistic opposition members and led the country on the path to ruin. This also shows how public must be watchful of over zealous media, which can act without reason and responsibility and plunge a country into crisis.

from:  Shaun Warren
Posted on: Apr 26, 2012 at 05:58 IST

Bofors guns continue to fire in the parliament.

We never know how well they perform in war. We probably didn't need them, if we were able to produce similar guns in our country. India is the largest importer of weapons and defence imports carry a huge price tag, and lot of lobbying goes on behind doors. India should mass produce weapons in its own factories, including war planes, and trainers. Imports from USSR involved, transfer of technology.

Posted on: Apr 26, 2012 at 02:05 IST

It may or may not be true that Rajiv Gandhi did not directly or indirectly take the bribe through Quattrocchi. But it is true Quattrocchi was a beneficiary in this deal. Why then did the Congress party pressure the CBI to absolve him of the crime? And what was the NDA government doing when it was in power at the Centre for over five years? It looks as if the BJP was in collusion with the Congress and is equally interested in avoiding a probe into this scam and booking the culprit. In the matter of corruption, the hands of both the Congress and the BJP are equally sullied. It is only the Left parties that have not been accused of any scam so far. The bottom line, therefore, is the need for a Left and democratic coalition that could replace these two corrupt coalitions, UPA and NDA. Let us hope such a coalition will come up before the next election to the Lok Sabha.

from:  Mohanraj
Posted on: Apr 26, 2012 at 01:27 IST
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