Rajiv Gandhi was 'middleman' for Swedish jet deal: WikiLeaks
New Delhi: In what may trigger a political storm in the country, the latest WikiLeaks revelations from US Embassy cables have projected former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi as an arms agent for a deal related to the sale of Swedish jets.
A report published by a leading daily ‘The Hindu’ on WikiLeaks expose of US diplomatic cables relating to “the Henry Kissinger era” claimed that Rajiv Gandhi could have been a middleman for the Swedish company Saab-Scania, when it was trying to sell its Viggen fighter aircraft to India in the 1970s.
This was several months before Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister, then a pilot with the Indian Airlines.
This shocking revelation is contained in the Kissinger era Cables claims that he was the “main Indian negotiator” for a massive aircraft deal for which his “family” connections were seen as valuable.
The allegation against Rajiv Gandhi as an arms agent relates to the mid 1970s. This is arguably the most sensational of the claims relating to Rajiv Gandhi. However, there is no independent confirmation or denial of the claim that the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s son, who was then a pilot with Indian Airlines, did in fact negotiate on behalf of the Swedish company Saab-Scania, which was looking to sell 50 Viggen fighter aircraft to India.
The very cable that mentions Rajiv Gandhi as an “entrepreneur” also states explicitly that US officials have “no additional information to either refute or confirm the above information.”
In any case, Saab-Scania lost out on the deal, having been forced to withdraw from the “fighter sweepstakes” by the US; the deal was eventually secured the British SEPECAT Jaguar.
A controversy over bribes paid in another armed forces deal with a different Swedish company, Bofors, had led to Rajiv Gandhi's and the Congress's defeat in the 1989 elections.
Meanwhile, the main opposition party BJP has slammed the ruling Congress over the fresh WikiLeaks allegations involving Rajiv Gandhi.