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Bofors issue adjourns Lok Sabha

Bofors issue adjourns Lok Sabha
The Bofors issue today led to disruption in Lok Sabha with the BJP and Left parties demanding reopening of the graft case and a judicial probe into it.

BJP members trooped into the Well following heated exchanges with Congress members, forcing Speaker Meira Kumar to adjourn the House for over 90-minutes.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh said though "the correct weapon was acquired, it was acquired in a wrong manner .... You (Congress) have paid, we have paid. The nation continues to pay".

"Till you don't remove this thorn, the poison will continue to spread. ... Whatever is happening in the defence sector today is because of this episode. It is a saga of continuing corruption. In matters of corruption, there is no closure," he said, demanding setting up of a judicial commission to probe the issue.

CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharia demanded reopening of the Bofors pay-offs case, institution of an independent inquiry and extradition of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi.

Admitting that the NDA had failed to get Quattrocchi extradited after his arrest in Malaysia, Singh said, "Many will say why did you not do it. You have failed, we have failed. But don't consider our failure as your success."

Observing that it gave him "no delight" to raise this issue, he said, "25 years have passed but the storm of Bofors refuses to subside and the guns continue to blaze."

Without naming Rajiv Gandhi, the BJP leader said, "The absence of the late Prime Minister is felt. A promising leader was taken away from our polity."

The reason behind Congress being reduced from its "historic" victory of 404 seats in Lok Sabha in 1984 to 114 in the next elections was Bofors pay-offs deal, he said.

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi were present in the House when the Opposition members raised the issue. The Lok Sabha had earlier seen brief disruption on the issue during Question Hour.

Singh posed a series of questions on the matter and asked why the Indian investigating teams which went to Sweden did not meet their Swedish counterparts probing the matter.

He claimed that Quattrocchi was "permitted through government connivance to escape from Delhi".

He sought to know why "political" donations were paid to the account of AE Services, a company owned by the Italian businessman. "How can it (donations) be political in nature when it went to a businessman. We all know he worked for Snam Progetti and what happened in it. We must know what his political purpose was," he said.

The BJP leader asked why the Red Corner notice against Quattrocchi was withdrawn and why an "inept and incapable" team was sent to Brazil which failed to bring him back.

Singh alleged that Quattrocchi had moved money from his London account and demanded that the account details be obtained the government. He termed as false the government statements that there were no cases against him, which led to defreezing of his accounts.

Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) asked what was the "interest" in not allowing a proper enquiry and his extradition. "What was the cover-up, who protected Quattrocchi, what interest did he have ... The Bofors scandal is not a closed chapter ... we will continue to raise this issue" till the persons responsible were brought to book.

As Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal said the opposition leaders were "lying", Congress members sought an apology from them, provoking BJP members to troop into the Well.

Sanjay Nirupam (Cong) said the Supreme Court has given a clean chit to Rajiv Gandhi and sought to know why NDA did not do anything for six years when it was in power.
PTI

PTI

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