Ahmedabad: Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani on Tuesday held both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi “guilty” in the withdrawal of the Red Corner Notice against Bofors accused Ottavio Quattrocchi and said the National Democratic Alliance will examine the issue if it comes to power.
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“If this news is true then I consider both the Prime Minister and Congress president guilty (for the withdrawal of the Red Corner Notice against Quattrocchi),” Advani told reporters.
He also described this development as the “last nail in the coffin of the judicial process in respect of the Bofors scandal”.
Condemning the Central Bureau of Investigation’s decision, the BJP prime ministerial candidate said,“We will examine Quattrocchi issue”, if voted to power.
Advani argued this action by the United Progressive Alliance government showed its desperation before it is voted out of power. “They are not going to come to power. Else, they would have waited for elections to get over and then take this step,” he said.
Advani said the 1989 general elections were contested on the Bofors issue and “the Rajiv Gandhi government which had won an unprecedented majority in 1984” lost the polls.
Advani, who is campaigning in his constituency, demanded a probe into the working of the CBI in the last five years.
“This is a serious decision. It is not a question of Quattrocchi alone but the entire role of the agency during the last five years which should be probed. They have become the ‘dastak´ or ‘handtool´ in the hands of politicians,” he said.
Advani, who has raised the issue of Indian black money in tax havens and foreign banks, said the UPA government had “allowed Quattrocchi’s account in a London bank to be defreezed so that he could withdraw his money”.
The senior BJP leader said the Narasimha Rao government had also been “soft” on Quattrocchi. “During the Rao government, prime accused Quattrocchi, who was considered close to Sonia Gandhi, was given the opportunity to go out of the country,” he said.
Advani said government institutions like the CBI have been “misused” in the last five years when UPA was in power.
The former deputy Prime Minister said the era of banking secrecy was over and India should work for getting back the black money.
Giving the example of Germany and the new dispensation in the USA, he said the Indian government should show interest in the issue at fora like G-20.
Terming the CBI as “Congress Bureau of Investigation”, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar alleged the Congress’ “only mission was to free the personal family friends of the Gandhi family and they have accomplished it”.
In a strongly-worded statement, CPI (M) Polit Bureau said,“Coming in the wake of the failure to successfully prosecute all those involved in the bribery case, it is evident that as long as there is a Congress-led government in office, the subversion of justice will continue”.
CPI national secretary D. Raja said it was now upto the Congress-led UPA and CBI to explain their position on the matter which had generated “a lot of controversy”.
While Forward Bloc National Secretary D Deverajan said the move “revealed the ugly face” of the Congress, RSP leader Abani Roy maintained it was “not the first incident of misuse” of the CBI by the Congress.
Dismissing the opposition charges, senior Congress leader M. Veerappa Moily said,“We have nothing to do with Quattrocchi. The Bofors case has been in the public (domain) for over two decades. If there was any proof of his involvement in the scam, the NDA, which had ruled the country earlier, should have taken some steps.”
‘Proud of Modi’
The BJP prime ministerial candidate denied that there was any rift in the party over Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi being projected as its future prime ministerial candidate.
“There is no fight in the party over Modiji being projected as the future Prime Ministerial candidate. Rather I am proud of the fact that ours is a party where a second line of leadership is ready and which has aspirants for the coveted post,” Advani said while addressing a press conference here.
Senior BJP leaders Arun Shourie, Arun Jaitley, M. Vekaiah Naidu and Yashwant Sinha had earlier endorsed Modi as a possible future Prime Ministerial candidate of the party.
With the Supreme Court ordering a probe into the alleged role of Narendra Modi and some of his cabinet colleagues in Gujarat riots, Advani said the move did not have any negative effect on the party.
“There is no setback for the party with the Supreme Court ordering the probe. It will be followed by the state government,” he said.
Modi had got a clean chit in the earlier probes on the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat. The BJP has already ruled out any question of Modi resigning as chief minister as till now he has not been indicted for the riots.