Bofors kickbacks lead to Sonias doorsteps

Guwahati: Bringing Sonia Gandhi in the line of fire, BJP on Sunday alleged that Ottavio Quattrocchi`s involvement in the Bofors pay-offs case lead "directly to the doorstep" of the Congress chief.

"We think the way the kickbacks were given being very clearly established by the appellate authority identifying Ottavio Quattrocchi, who all of us know had enviable access to the then Prime Minister (Rajiv Gandhi), takes this whole issue clearly to the doorstep of Shrimati Soniaji," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.

The political resolution adopted at the two-day national executive meeting of the BJP said the party resolves to fight corruption tooth and nail.

"To restore hope back to the people, the BJP shall rise to serve as the nucleus of this effort. We are a party born out of a struggle, not very long ago. People, groups, civil society organisations and parties wishing to energise this `clean India of corruption` effort should come together," the party said in its political resolution," it said.

The resolution, moved by Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and seconded by her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley, made a scathing attack on the Gandhi family in the wake of the latest revelations made by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal order.

The order had said that kick backs of Rs 61 crore were paid to late Win Chaddha and Quattrocchi in the Howitzer gun deal and that they are liable to pay tax in India on such income.

"The Congress, particularly its first family is faced with the power of truth. Truth has the habit of coming up at inconvenient time. Misusing the CBI to undermine this case, each time and at every level, the party ensured that Ottavio Quattrocchi was enabled to flee the country," the party said.

It claimed that the Congress party had resolutely maintained that no kickbacks were paid and were closing the case against the controversial Italian businessman.

Party veteran L K Advani in his concluding remarks described 2010 as the year of "stinking scams" and saw the situation as ripe for decisive change in Indian politics.

At the same time, he dismissed as "sponsored agenda of ruling establishment" the talk of mid-term elections.

"When the government is in deep-trouble the talk of mid-term elections is being made. It is sponsored agenda of the ruling establishment in the country as they have many skeletons. They do not have the courage to go in for snap polls at a time when they are faced with the twin challenges of corruption and price rise," Advani said.

Party leaders also said that the assertions of former Telecom Minister A Raja and Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee that they had obtained "due clearances" for cost escalations, leads to the "doorsteps of the PMO".

An NDA rally held soon after the conclusion of the BJP meet saw several party leaders, including former party chief Rajnath Singh, targetting the Congress president over the issue of corruption.

The BJP also sought a clarification from the Gandhi family on its relations with Quattrocchi and his dealings.

"The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal is a quasi-judicial body which has found Quattrocchi guilty and he has direct and very clear access to the then Prime Minister. Therefore, what do you expect us to conclude?" was the refrain of party leaders, including Sitharaman.

In the resolution, the BJP wanted like-minded parties, people, groups and civil society organisations to jointly "extricate" the country from the "Congress culture of corruption, greed and loot".

Ill-gotten wealth should be brought back from all tax havens wherever in the world, it said.

Political will and national interest is required for this unenviable task, the party said and the discussion saw senior leader Shanta Kumar specifically raising the issue of bringing back money stashed illegally by Indians in Swiss banks.

Kumar said he has written to Prime Minister in this regard but he has failed to respond.

The party decided to make full use of the "disconcerting" political environment by holding rallies at various places across the length and breadth of the country on the issue of corruption and to highlight the failures of the government to addressing the issue of price rise.

It also resolved to seek legal recourse to justice for getting the "nation looters punished and to get back the ill-gotten wealth from the various tax havens abroad".

Insisting on a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the 2-G scam, the main opposition said a JPC shall be focussed and its terms of reference shall be wide.

Corruption shall be its only subject and it shall exhaustively find the logical links, however deep, far or frightening.

"Towards this end, it shall call and question any, however mighty and powerful they be. And this is what makes the Congress fear the JPC! And this is why they do not want it! And they are obstinate!" the party said.

Its insistence on the JPC brings into question the smooth functioning of the budget session of Parliament which has seen a deadlock on the issue, leading to a washout of the winter session.