BJP to Rake Up Bofors Issue in Parliament

New Delhi
BJP to Rake Up Bofors Issue in Parliament
BJP Parliamentary Party today decided to rake up the Bofors pay-offs issue in Parliament in wake of fresh allegations that the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi may have soft-pedalled the probe to protect Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley spoke during the Parliamentary Party meeting about the allegations related to the Bofors scam made by former Swedish Police chief Sten Lindstrom in an interview.

"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 later.

BJP will raise this issue in the Rajya Sabha when the working of the Defence Ministry is discussed on May 2. The party also plans to raise the issue in the Lok Sabha but the "mode and manner" in which it will be brought up has not been decided yet.

Asked if Rajiv Gandhi himself was "complicit" in saving Quattrochi, Prasad said, "His government tried to save and protect Quattrocchi, and suppress the investigations. 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."

Alleged anomalies worth Rs 350 crore in a helicopter deal will also be highlighted by BJP in Parliament.

The CD controversy involving Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi also came up during the BJP meeting. Some members felt BJP was being "too soft" on the lawyer. "During the cash-for-query scam, Singhvi had personally been harsh on our MPs involved in the matter and worked for their expulsion. We are allowing him to get away lightly," an MP said.

Senior BJP leader L K Advani also spoke on the Singhvi controversy and about how he had to step down from the post of Chairman of Standing Committee on Law and Justice as the government was wary of the Opposition raking up the issue.

Party sources said BJP has already conveyed to Rajya Sabha Chairperson Hamid Ansari that the controversy about the CD should be referred to the Privileges Committee as if it is morphed, then it is an attempt to tarnish the image of an MP. However, if the CD is not morphed, then Singhvi should face the Ethics Committee, they said.

"We are likely to demand an explanation from Singhvi in the Rajya Sabha on the reason behind his decision to step down from the Law and Justice Committee," an MP said.

Among other issues, BJP also decided to take on the government on the plight of cotton farmers.

"Cotton export ban was lifted, yet the government has not made any efforts to bring the produce to the market. The farmers continue to bear the brunt of this and are facing hardships," Prasad said.

Issues of corruption in the UPA government will also be raised by the Opposition in this session.

In the Rajya Sabha, the discussion on working of Defence Ministry will be initiated by Jaitley on behalf of BJP. The Civil Aviation debate will be led by Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the sources said.
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