Advani conveys regret to Sonia over black money allegation

Friday, February 18, 2011

NEW DELHI - Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani has regretted the distress caused to Congress president Sonia Gandhi over his party’s task force report alleging that she and her husband, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, had money in foreign bank accounts.

However, he said Gandhi should have denied the allegations before they found a place in the BJP document.

In a letter to the Congress chief written Wednesday, Advani said: On my retrun from Kolkata last night, I found your letter of Feb 15 awaiting me.

I am happy that you have denied the reports relating to you and your family alluded to in the task force’s report on black money. If these had been denied earlier, the task force would have taken your denial into account. Even so, I deeply regret the distress caused to you, Advani said in the letter, released to the media.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance earlier this month released a booklet “Indian Black Money Abroad in Secret Banks and Tax Havens”, that contained allegations against Gandhi and her late husband.

Advani told the media that the report had spoken of smaller countries like the Philippines, Peru, Nigeria and Tunisia being able to get the Swiss government to assist them in recovering hundreds of billions of dollars stashed away by their corrupt leaders. But in India the hawala affair of Hasan Ali, the Quattrocchi case and the alleged foreign account maintained in the name of a former prime minister of India belonging to the Congress party have not been investigated or probe stymied.

BJP leaders said that Advani’s letter made it clear that Sonia Gandhi had not denied allegations relating to her family earlier, otherwise they would not have found a place in the task force report.

“There have been reports in foreign media relating to accounts a former prime minister but the Congress in the past has not made a categorical rebuttal,” a BJP leader said.

The leaders said Advani’s letter and his regret should be seen as an expression of political courtesy to another senior leader.

They said while Advani had expressed regret over distress caused to Sonia Gandhi, the Congress had not made a similar gesture on the allegations made by it against party president Nitin Gadkari in relation to the Adarsh Housing Society scam.

The Congress, meanwhile, welcomed Advani’s regret.

We have seen the reports in media and have no concrete information about it, but if it is true then it is a welcome decision,” party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed told reporters.

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