BJP takes on PM, Sonia in Bofors scandal

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

NEW DELHI - The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launching its fresh attack on the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday said it would raise the pitch against corruption in government in the wake of the income tax tribunal’s decision on the Bofors case and pass a special resolution on the issue at its executive meeting in Guwahati.

“After the recent revelations by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, the Prime Minister and Congress President Sonia Gandhi are answerable to the nation. We are going to intensify our agitation against the government on corruption,” said senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley after a meeting of the BJP Core Group here.

It has been reported that the BJP top brass at its meeting today discussed several strategies and the recent corruption cases for bringing the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government at the Centre on the back foot.

The income tax tribunal decision, which confirmed that payments were made to Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrochi and AE Services owner Win Chaddha in the gun deal, has come as a shot in the arm for the BJP.

“At our national executive meet at Guwahati, we are going to pass a special resolution against corruption in the UPA-II Government, added Jaitley, who is also the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

Jaitley further told reporters that the verdict of the income tax tribunal has revealed that those close to the top Congress leadership had received kickbacks in the Bofors deal and it could not wash its hands of this ‘taint’.

“If the Congress leadership had no relationship with those who received kickbacks in Bofors, it would have welcomed the decision. If the Congress has any honesty, it should welcome this decision as it collects more revenue for the government of India,” he said.

Jaitley alleged that the attitude of the government has not changed despite so many exposures, and it was indulging in a cover-up in the Bofors case.

Moreover, the BJP today decided to strengthen its campaign against corruption and hold its planned rallies on the issue in different state capitals more effectively.

Earlier on Tuesday, a lower court in Delhi adjourned till Thursday the hearing of the Bofors payoff case closure plea by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The CBI in its plea before the Tis Hazari Court said that continued prosecution of Quattrocchi was “unjustified” in the light of lack of evidence, and hence the failed attempts to extradite him.

However, the lawyer opposing the CBI plea, Ajay Agarwal, claimed he has proof that the CBI has a lot of evidence against Quattrocchi.

An income tax tribunal in its order issued yesterday, indicated how much money Quattrocchi and Win Chaddha were paid by Bofors as bribes.

The kickbacks violated rules, as a middleman is illegal in defence deals in India. Therefore, Quattrocchi and Chaddha are liable to pay income tax on bribe money they got while living in India.

It also claimed that due to the kickbacks, India had to pay almost Rs. 160 crore extra for the guns.

The Bofors scandal was a major corruption scandal in India in the 1980s. The then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and several others were accused of receiving kickbacks from Bofors AB who were awarded the contract for the supply of 155 mm field howitzers.

The scale of the corruption was far worse than any that India had seen before, and contributed to the defeat of Rajiv Gandhi’s ruling Indian National Congress party in the November 1989 general elections. (ANI)

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