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Updated: January 6, 2011 03:05 IST

I-T order on Bofors boosts BJP campaign

Neena Vyas
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Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley interacts with media in New Delhi. File Photo: Rajeev Bhatt
The Hindu
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley interacts with media in New Delhi. File Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

NDA meeting today likely to endorse plan to question integrity of Gandhi family

The Bharatiya Janata Party has decided to use the opportunity in the Income Tax Tribunal order on the Bofors-related commissions to make the Gandhi family feel the heat of its anti-corruption campaign.

At a meeting of the party's core committee on Wednesday, it was decided to add the Bofors issue to its campaign against the 2G spectrum allocation and Commonwealth Games-related corruption. At a meeting of leaders of its National Democratic Alliance partners, scheduled for Thursday, this plan is likely to be endorsed.

In line with its view that the opportunity must be fully exploited to question the integrity of the Gandhi family, the party's national executive committee meeting in Guwahati on January 8 will be adopting a resolution on corruption. This will focus on corruption eroding governance and the ‘aam aadmi's' faith in the Manmohan Singh government.

The Guwahati meet is important as Assam is the only one of the five States — the others being West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory Puducherry — going to the polls in the next six months in which the BJP has a major stake. So far it seems the BJP will be going it alone in the Assembly elections, and it has hopes that if it does well, it could forge an alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad in the next Lok Sabha poll as it did in 2009.

Party leaders have indicated the BJP may desist from attacking Congress president Sonia Gandhi directly in its campaign even though Bofors will be mentioned. The view is that since a government agency — the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) — has formally stated that kickbacks were paid to Win Chadha and Ottavio Quattrocchi, the main Opposition party has every right to exploit this and it is for the people to add two and two to get the full picture.

Disconnect between ITAT and CBI

“So far the Congress has always said that the charges made by the Opposition on the Bofors were not correct as nothing could be proved. However, after the ITAT order [of 31 December 2010], we can and do say the charges have been proven and that Mr. Quattrocchi did get commissions from the Bofors deal. It is for the people to understand how and why Mr. Quattrocchi managed the deal,” Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj told a group of journalists.

In any case, the disconnect between what the ITAT has said and what the Central Bureau of Investigation has claimed (there were no charges against Mr. Quattrocchi and the case should be closed) was far too obvious, and as Ms. Swaraj put it: “We [the Opposition] had no role to play in this.”

The party's public meeting in Guwahati scheduled for January 9 was planned as part of a series of anti-corruption rallies in different towns. It will be the first where the Bofors issue is taken up along with the 2G spectrum scandal, Ms. Swaraj indicated.

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley did not mince his words either. Immediately after the core committee met, he said: “After the recent revelations by the ITAT, the Prime Minister and the Congress president are answerable to the nation.”

The anti-corruption resolution will be the party's main political resolution. In addition a resolution specific to the northeast is planned in which illegal immigration from Bangladesh will also find a pride of place together with insurgency and the problem faced by Manipur from the months-long Naga road blockade.

A statement may also be adopted on the devastation caused by floods in Andhra Pradesh. With the Telangana issue now expected to take centre stage, this may also figure during the party's deliberations in Guwahati, although time is short with the two-day conclave effectively reduced to a day. The second day will be taken up by a public meeting.

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