BJP rakes up Bofors issue to corner Cong

BJP rakes up Bofors issue to corner Cong

BJP rakes up Bofors issue to corner Cong

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday sought to put the opposition Congress in a tight corner by calling for a “proper investigation” into the allegation of bribery over a deal to buy 155 mm field howitzer guns for Indian Army from Swedish company Bofors AB.

While the BJP MPs, Meenakshi Lekhi and Nishikant Dubey, raised the issue in the Lok Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ananth Kumar, told journalists that the Congress should support the demand for a fresh investigation into the case if it stood for provity in public life. The Congress, however, dismissed the call for fresh probe, saying that the BJP had been raising it for the past 30 years.

Kumar cited recent media reports quoting Swedish police officer Sten Lindstorm saying that former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, and his then counterpart in Sweden, Olof Palme, had discussed a quid pro quo before New Delhi clinched the gun deal with Bofors AB. The media-reports quoted Sten, who had investgated the case, claiming that Martin Ardbo, the Managing Director of Bofors AB, had revealed certain facts to him before his death in 2004. Sten quoted Ardbo telling him that Gandhi and Palme had agreed that Bofors AB would pay the kickback to politicians and officials in India through a foundation in Sweden, according to the media-reports.

“He has said that the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was involved in this. There must be a thorough probe. The country should know the complete truth,” said the Parliamentary Affairs Minister.

Rahul Gandhi, the vice-president of the Congress, said that the BJP had been trying to dig up an old issue. “They (BJP) have been responding for the last 30 years, let them continue to do so for another 30 years,” said the son of late Rajiv Gandhi.

Lekhi first raised the issue in the Lok Sabha during Zero Hour, when the MPs of the Congress and other opposition parties were raising slogans against the BJP-led Government and protesting against lynching of people by cow-vigilantes. She also cited media-reports quoting Lindstorm saying that the then Prime Ministers of India and Sweden had some transactions and the documents of the transactions had still been in the custody of the Government of India. She said that the Government of India had never acted upon the documents.

Countering the Congress claim that the BJP was trying to dig up a 30-year-old issue, Lekhi said that the issues, which had not been properly burried, would continue to move around as ghosts and continue to haunt. “If the genie of Bofors had come out of the bottle, it should be properly burried and a proper burial would only be possible only when all people in the country would know about it,” said the BJP MP.

Her party colleague Dubey said that the Government should reopen the Bofors case by submitting an affidavit in the Supreme Court.

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