The ghost of Bofors returned to haunt the Congress party today with the BJP targeting it following fresh allegations that Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister may have soft-pedaled the probe into kickbacks in the gun deal to protect Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi.
In an interview, former Swedish police chief Sten Lindstorm, who owned up being the whistleblower in the illegal payoffs case, has said there was no evidence to suggest that Gandhi had taken a bribe in the Bofors deal but that he did nothing to prevent the cover-up that followed in both India and Sweden to protect Quattrocchi.
Training its guns on the Congress, BJP said it will raise the Bofors pay-offs issue in Parliament.
"The entire government of India at that point in time was out to save Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, including then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters after a meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Party where the issue was raised by senior leader Arun Jaitley.
Brushing aside the allegations, Law Minister Salman Khurshid said the Bofors case is closed and there is no need to reopen it.
The Law Minister also sought a public apology from all those making wild allegations against Gandhi for the past many years and tarnishing his image and hurting his family members.
"There was a detailed investigation and there were Supreme Court and High Court proceedings that took place and the decision that came endorsed those proceedings.
"I don't think we can continue to reopen these issues... We don't want a new chapter to be opened. The final decision of the Supreme Court should not be reopened," Khurshid told reporters here.
"It is a matter of regret that without having any proof, such serious charges were levelled (against Rajiv Gandhi). The same people are not ready to feel sorry even today. They should apologise before the public," said Khurshid.
Asked if Rajiv Gandhi himself was "complicit" in saving Quattrochi, Prasad said, "His government tried to save and protect Quattrocchi, and suppress the investigations."
The BJP leader said, "It is clear from the interview that Rajiv Gandhi's government made all efforts to stop the probe, delay proceedings and prevent any action against Quattrocchi."
The NCP sought to downplay the fresh allegations, saying there is no basis for any case against the Congress or the government.
"I do not think there can be any case against Congress or government on the issue. There is no basis for it," NCP spokesperson D P Tripathy told reporters outside Parliament.
CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta accused the government of having no political will to expose the guilty.
"It is very deplorable. It is a slur on the image of the country. It only means that the investigation procedure was false and government had no political will to identify who actually was behind the malpractice," he said.
BJP Targets Congress Over Bofors Case
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