Those who were asked to bow ended up licking her feet!
Never before has mainstream Indian media ever been guilty of having stooped so low and led such a depraved existence. During the ‘Emergency Era’ imposed on Indian democracy by Indira Gandhi, mainstream media was asked to be subservient, which they implicitly obeyed by literally crawling on the ground. However, things have gone multifold steps ahead, with majority of those who belong to mainstream media plainly licking the feet of … yes! Sonia Gandhi !! (that too without even receiving any major commands from her or her ruling UPA)
The revelation of Sten Lindstrom, the investigating officer of Bofors case and former head of Swedish Police Force regarding the portion of wealth confiscated by Sonia has not been revealed, thanks to mainstream media. The aloofness maintained by mainstream media, with regard to revelation of truth, including the fact that India happens to be a corrupt republic, shows their subservient attitude, far more slavish than what was displayed during the Era of Emergency.
Sonia has been able to nurture middlemen in both India’s ruling and opposition parties. The proof of it lies in the fact that any reference made to the revelations of Lindstrom, is greeted by mainstream media with the customary and tailor made answer: a well maintained and stoic silence. The silence, however, remains unjustifiable. However, in the midst of these middlemen, who function in a similar manner, one person definitely deserves praise- BJP’s Chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad. His statement during a press conference, “Sonia is answerable to many different matters,” depicts a kind of bravery in revealing facts.
The news pieces that followed revelations made by Lindstrom, various debates and discussions held on news channels, speeches and declarations made by various members of the Indian Parliament among both Ruling and Opposition parties, press releases etc have carefully avoided any criticism that even remotely mentioned Sonia Gandhi. It could be fear or apprehension about revealing the major role played by Sonia Gandhi that the revelations of Lindstrom was carefully trimmed from being published by Indian media. What more, in what can be termed as an example of a glaring offense, the entire episode was subject to master strokes of editing by leading dailies like ‘The Hindu’, where Lindstrom, instead of being lauded for his scrupulous honesty was nailed with questions shrouding his credibility. It appeared that Indian judiciary stood entirely contradictory to what Lindstrom quoted.
A stroll down memory lane: the time when Rajiv Gandhi government was taking an inordinate delay in arriving at a conclusion regarding the purchase of guns. Two Italians intermediates entrusted by the Swedish company Bofors to sign the deed were not successful in implementing the task. It was during this time that Bofors was approached by officials from the company named AE in the year 1982. They made a pact with Bofors: incase of success regarding the deed with ruling Congress government before 31 March 1986, a 3% commission. Incase of failure they expected nothing. And as stated by AE, before the stipulated time, on 22 March, 1986, just 7 days before the deadline, the Rajiv Gandhi government of India signed a pact with Bofors regarding the purchase of 155 mm field Howitzer. In a brief span of 6 months, the first phase of an illegal transaction of $ 7.3 million was received by AE on 3 September, 1986 in their bank at Zurich, the Nord Finance Bank.
Coming to AE Service, the company is owned by Italian multimillionare and business magnate Ottavio Quattrocchi. The extent to which Quattrocchi was able to cast an influence on Rajiv Gandhi, who held the tenure as Prime Minister was quite well known to Bofors, who made capital out of it by offering a commission as part of the deal. It is at this juncture that Sonia’s presence in the scam begins.
Quattrocchi and his wife Maria are also family friends of the Italian Sonia. The extent to which the families were close can be discerned from the fact that each family acted as caretaker to the other’s children, in case of any tour or travel. So, it was through Sonia that the Italian businessman Quattrocchi got in touch with Rajiv Gandhi. So when Rajiv was pressed into the deal, it was akin to coercing Sonia for the deal. Even though, finally, Rajiv Gandhi came to be penalized as the accused in the Bofors scam, Sonia was keener on getting Quattrocchi acquitted. Infact, the shielding of Quattrocchi was more important for Sonia than it was for Rajiv.
The Bofors deal involving black money came to the notice of the Indian public, with the Swedish National Radio broadcasting the same in 1987. This also brought the opposition parties of Indian political system and media houses up against the matter. Quattrocchi left India 6 months after the Swedish government made public, details of the illegal transaction which took place, in the deal signed in 1993. It was Margaret Alva, the Deputy Minister during the tenure of PV Narasimha Rao, who made arrangements for the same. And thus, Ottavio Quattrocchi became an elusive link of the case.
Two accounts held by Quattrocchi in London Bank were frozen at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party government in 2003. This however, was repealed in January 11, 2006 by a petition filed by the Manmohan Singh ministry. B Datta, the Additional Solicitor General was sent to England with the plea of repealing the case. He returned to India with news of success. This comes as a defiance of a Supreme Court order directing the Manmohan Singh Ministry not to grant Quattrocchi permission to withdraw any amount from the frozen accounts. The SC directive was issued on January 16 of the same year. Even the CBI has clearly stated that withdrawals of money did take place on January 23.
When this voluminous concession was granted to the Italian Quattrochi, who has an outstanding badge of Interpol’s ‘Red Corner Notice’, his sway and hold over the Indian Government can be discerned only too clearly. And it remains quite well known that the person instrumental in maneuvering the entire script and pulling the reins so successfully is none other than Sonia Gandhi. Her involvement in the Bofors deal has been pointed out by the declarations made by Meylies De Stot, a collaborator of AE Services, the firm owned by Ottavio Quattrocchi. The declaration of Stot made a shocking revelation, “In the Bofors deal that sold guns to India, the financial transaction took place via Quattrochi’s firms: AE Services, Colbar Investments, Wetldon Oversees.”
The elusive Quattrochi was arrested in Argentina on February 6, 2006, by Interpol. This was disclosed by India’s CBI on February 23, which means that the matter was being cleverly shielded from Indian public by the Central government. On February 26, Quattrocchi managed to get himself rescued from Interpol with the aid of Argentinian police. However, his passport was confiscated.
Back home, Manmohan Singh’s government showed no inclination to file an appeal in the Supreme Court of Argentina, to get Quattrochi extradited to India. Infact 2 CBI officers were even sent on a secret mission to Argentina to rescue Quattrochi. All rescue acts of Quattrochi, including issuing of orders to liquefy the once frozen accounts of Quattrochi and his escapade from Argentina was personally handled and supervised by Central Minster for Law, HR Bharadwaj.
There are no second thoughts involved or grave errors on the part of Swedish officer Lindstrom when it comes to stating Sonia Gandhi’s involvement in the Bofors Scam. “Sonia Gandhi has to face interrogation. I have pondered over the matter fairly well,” says Linstrom. “It is quite obvious that Quattrochi did not receive the money directly. But he has been involved in certain deals. Sonia will be able to throw ample light on the matter,” added Lindstrom. “I am, however, shocked as to why the Indian government has not taken a single step in interrogating her. I continue to be astounded,” said Lindstrom.
The words uttered by Lindstrom have carefully been shielded by mainstream media. The credit for this again goes to the Congress party. Keeping off the words of Lindstrom are part of their ongoing efforts (and previous efforts) to wrap up and conceal the case completely. Probably, realizing the grave perils that are involved in the interrogation of Sonia Gandhi, N Ram made a declaration in a debate that was aired on a prominent news channel. N Ram, the former media man did his best in clearing the air with his statement that there was absolutely no need to interrogate Sonia Gandhi.
When it came to the stage that the reputation of Rajiv Gandhi and the Congress Party would be at stake, the reports drafted by Chitra Subramanian revealing the illegal transactions involved in the Bofors case were hastily kept away from being published. This was done by none other than the leading newspaper group, “The Hindu”. Chitra’s report later appeared in ‘The Indian Express”. Even after a span of two and a half decades, N Ram and his print publishing house ‘The Hindu’ has not yet changed an instance of their stand.
Congress leaders often quote Lindstorm and says Bofors scandal is a closed chapter.However, it is the very same Lindstrom who has reiterated that Quattrochi was bailed out to safety by none other than Rajiv Gandhi. The Congress Government has conveniently chosen to close their eyes and feign blindness regarding the matter. The reason is too evident: if illegal wealth has not been received as part of the deal, the party would evidently be answerable to the main question- “why did Rajiv Gandhi use his powers to shield Quattrochi”? The Indian public knows the answer: Rajiv used his powers to shield Quattrochi, for Sonia. In fact now, Sonia has, quite willfully and cunningly, done nothing, but move ahead with the efforts initiated by Rajiv.
Money laundering is a crime. Any partnership in the same and any efforts to conceal any such issue is a crime of equal gravity. The same media houses that spearhead the cause of instilling moral lessons into the general public conveniently cover the issue, when it comes to Sonia Gandhi.
‘Panchajanya’ the Hindi journal that was being issued from Delhi got into a controversy regarding a cartoon they published. This was during the tenure of UPA I. The cartoon depicted those in power and party workers licking the feet of Sonia Gandhi. Media houses and journalists who are now turning their backs on the statements made by Lindstrom are doing nothing less!!
(Original Article published in Janmabhumi by Shri Murali Parappuram
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