Monday, January 3, 2011
Bofors - The Ghost Is Real
By Manuwant Choudhary
A day before the CBI is to tell an Indian court that the Bofors case should be `closed' due to lack of sufficient evidence, an Income Tax Tribunal's findings are made public where both the Bofor's agents the Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi and Win Chadda are asked to pay INcome Tax on the commission money that went into their accounts.
The tribunal uses the same CBI findings that the CBI plans to use to close the case.
An independent lawyer Ajay Aggarwal is doggedly opposing this `closure' by the CBI in public interest. He says if the guilty go unpunished in this then there will be no further detterent on the corrupt in India.
The IT tribunal passed this judgement on December 31, 2010 where in it held that Quattrocchi was paid 9 crore rupees and Win Chadda got Rs.52.6 crores by the Swedish gun manucaturer Bofors.
Quattrocchi had an interpol notice on him but India has failed in extradition attempts or has simply not tried and the present Congress government allowed the defreezing of his London account enabling Quattrocchi to take his money out. Win Chadda is dead.
The Congress spokesman told a private TV channel that it is not his concern if Quattrocchi or Win Chadda took money, whats his concern is that the Congress Party is not involved.
The BJP spokesman Arun Jaitley says this scam worth only `64 crores' is important because it was one scam that reached closest to the Prime Minister's doorstep.
Let us go back in time.
The Bofors exposure actually turned this country's history, even if the guilty are yet to be punished.
It also exposed that honest politicians are not needed in New Delhi.
The central character by default became Mr. Vishwanath Pratap Singh who as finance minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government had a clean image (but Rajiv's image was cleaner) but when V.P. Singh was confronted by the FAIRFAX issue where prominent persons like the Ambani's and Rajiv's own friend Amitabh Bacchan were suspected of having illegally parked money into foriegn accounts, he ordered an inquiry, so Rajiv Gandhi shifted him to defence.
This was followed by the HDW submarine scam when V.P. Singh found the German company claiming they paid 7 per cent as commission to Indian agents to secure the deal, when the Indian government asked them for a discount in two submarines that they wanted to purchase from the HDW shipyard in Germany.
But the HDW submarine deal went back to 1981 when Mrs. Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister, so Congressmen viciously oppsoed V.P. Singh even in a cabinet meeting because he had not taken `permission' of the Prime Minister to order the inquiry.
V.P. Singh resigns as defence minister.
V.P. Singh was a raja without a kingdom.
Yet, a Swedish radio broadcast stunned India wherein it was said that Bofors paid 64 crore rupees as commission to agents to procure the deal.
India's Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had told parliament that no commission was paid (Paying commissions are illegal in defence deals in India).
The Hindu's Chitra Subramanyan filed hunderds of reports from abroad tracking the case but the newspaper under pressure eased her out, Chitra moved to The Indian Express, which took up the Bofors case in a big way.
V.P. Singh, who had no mass support as a Congress politician, soon saw himself ride on an anti-corruption wave that ultimately made him Prime Minister.
Of course, V.P. Singh did very little to bring the Bofors accused to book, except file an FIR (which did not name Rajiv). In fact, V.P. Singh all along did not ever say that Rajiv took the commission, he only said Rajiv shielded the guilty.
V.P. Singh is his book `Manzil Se Zyada Safar', reveals that the Bofors officials had come to India when he was Prime Minister and wanted to reveal the names, but Congressmen got wind and convinced Bofors officials that the National Front government would not last so there was no need to be reckless.
V.P. Singh launched his own brand of caste politics (to become a Mandal messiah), while the BJP went the other way on a rath yatra to destroy the Babri Masjid mosque.
The Mandal-Mandir politics put Bofors and corruption on a back-burner.
Yet, on hindsight this is not surprsing considering how the BJP leaders were caught on camera in the Tehelka expose where the BJP president himself accepted money (asked agents for dollars). So corruption is not really an issue amongst political parties.
India's former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar (who had succeeded V.P. Singh) was most candid about it ..he would often tell parliament that corruption should never be discussed in India's parliament.
So stalling parliament over 2G, wanting a JPC probe actually mean little.
Indian politics is extremely corrupt, so its really surprising how and why they charge people under `Sedition' laws. Because if Sedition laws are to be applied all our politicians will find themselves in prison.
Is it right to take money underhand, while our men die in Kashmir?
Is this Nationalism or patriotism?
Bofors should be investigated. What has been overlooked is also the role of the Indian military in the Bofors deal. At every stage of approvals it is the military that gives sanctions and if these sanctions were given after commissions were paid to agents then clearly our men with honours are certainly involved.
I was just wondering what award winning journalist Chitra Subramanyam was doing these days. Her book `India Is For Sale' is a must read. But this is what I found on the WikiPedia:
"Chitra Subramanyam co-founded a Swiss watch company BorgeauD SA borgeaudwatches.com. In a global first, BorgeauD SA has launched La Collection Gravitas, the world’s first watch that incorporates the Rahukaalam, a daily 90-minute sequence which is avoided for the taking of important decisions. The Rahukaalam calculations are part of the ancient Indian panchang."
Perhaps, India's corrupt politcians can finally be her clients. Wow a watch that tells you when you will be Prime Minister!
Rajiv Gandhi's widow Sonia Gandhi is the UPA chairperson, so its not surprising that Octavio Quatrochhi is being let-off. (he was after all a family freind of the Gandhi's)
We are afterall like Nepal.
As for Dr. Manmohan Singh, I just have this for him, "How High Can You Stoop, Mr. Prime Minister?"