New Delhi: In the wake of Income Tax tribunal’s disclosure that Ottavio Quattrochi was indeed paid kickbacks by then Indian Government, BJP on Tuesday trained its guns at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding an apology for “defending” the Italian businessman.
"Mr PM, you tried to give a clean chit to Quattrocchi", BJP general secretary and party’s chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said while speaking to the reporters here in the capital.
Prasad, who is the chief spokesperson of the saffron party used Singh`s recent statement -- “Caesar`s wife must be above suspicion” -- to attack him.
"PM’s comment exonerating Quattrochi having been found to
be false by a competent Tribunal. Would the Prime Minister now stand up to his own benchmark and apologise to the nation”, Prasad asked.
Prasad was referring to PM`s remarks that "It is not a good reflection on the Indian legal system that we harass people and that Quattrocchi case is an embarrassment for the Government of India."
The saffron party also smacks of “a big powerful hidden hand” responsible to bail the Italian businessmen out, said Prasad.
It was in July 1993 Quattrochi managed to leave India after he was officially named as an accused in the Bofors pay off case. “The Congress-led government machinery was fully used and abused to bail out Quattrocchi”, the BJP general secretary said. “The reason: “Quattrochi has close proximity with Gandhi family”, he added.
Coming down heavily on the Congress-led UPA government, Prasad said, " Every effort was made to scuttle the investigations. They first messed up the investigation deliberately. Now they say a case cannot be made".
“It was during NDA rule in 1998, chargesheet against Quattrochi was filed following which an arrest warrant was issued in 1999,” Prasad said.
“After UPA came to power, the then Additional Solicitor General B Dutta went to London in January 2006 and gave unsolicited advice that no case is pending against Quattrocchi and the account be de-freezed. It was done accordingly and huge amount of taxpayers` money was withdrawn”, he asked.
He alleged that "collusive legal advice" for this was given under the supervision of the then Law Minister Hansraj Bhardwaj.