BJP to rake up Bofors issue in Parliament



New Delhi: BJP parliamentary party on Wednesday 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 Quattrocchi, 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.

PTI