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UF pulled down to scuttle Bofors probe - The Observer

Observer Political Bureau ()
February 18, 1998

Title: UF pulled down to scuttle Bofors probe
Author: Observer Political Bureau
Publication: The Observer
Date: February 18, 1998

Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Atal Behari
Vajpayee asserted on Tuesday that the Congress owed more than an
apology to the nation in view of Prime Minister I K Gujral's
confirmation that the party had pulled down the United Front
Government after a letter rogatory was sent to Isle of Mann
seeking details of the accounts in which the Bofors bribes were
allegedly deposited.

In a statement released from Lucknow and circulated by the BJP
headquarters in Delhi, Mr Vajpayee said that the real reason why
the Congress withdrew support to the UF Government was to scuttle
the Bofors probe and the party's drama over the Jain Commission
report was a "mere ruse."

The Congress was enraged that the UF Government should try to
take the probe to its logical end and feared that "the truth it
has tried to suppress an these years would finally come out," he

Mr Vajpayee reminded the people that of the 11 years that the
Bofors scandal had haunted India, the Congress was in power for
seven years. During these seven years all attempts were made to
cover up the scam ranging from fixing the JPC report to sending a
minister to Switzerland with a letter asking the Swiss to
discontinue the inquiry - he added.

It was also during these seven years that the man who held the
key to the Bofors mystery - Ottavio Quattrocchi - was allowed to
escape, he charged.

"Truth has strange ways of surfacing. In this case, it has
surfaced from the Prime Minister of a Government that came into
existence with Congress' support," Mr Vajpayee said.

"Congress has been protesting its innocence as well as the
claimed innocence of certain individuals having any role in the
Bofors bribery scandal. With the Prime Minister confirming what
has been known all along - that the Congress withdrew support to
the UF Government after a letter was sent to the Isle of Mann
seeking details of accounts in which the Bofors bribes were
deposited - the Congress and its leaders owe more than an apology
to the nation," he stressed.

The BJP leader recalled that the Prime Minister had said during a
TV interview that the Government had the names of the
beneficiaries of the Bofors payoff scandal and that these names
had already been publicised.

The papers, he quoted Mr Gujral as saying, could not be released
at this point because it would adversely affect the prosecution
case and that the Government had sent a letter on November 7 last
year to the authorities of Isle of Mann seeking details of
accounts to which the Bofors bribe money had been routed.

Meanwhile, party spokesman in Delhi Venkaiah "du said that the
BJP delegation had brought to the notice of the CEC that Sun TV
in Tamil Nadu had violated the code of conduct by not only not
observing the 48-hour moratorium on broadcasting by political
parties before the polling day, but also "referring to religious
communities, which was a violation of the Representation of
People's Act.

Following this, the Chief Election Commissioner called up the
chief electoral officer of Tamil Nadu in their presence and asked
him to make sure that the violation was not repeated, he added.

The Bharatiya Janata Party also demanded that a commission of
enquiry be set up on the Coimbatore blasts as the magnitude of
the strike in Coimbatore pointed to a "foreign hand" and it was
"imperative that a commission of inquiry be set up if the truth
was to come out."

Mr Naidu further said that it seemed that the Tamil Nadu police
was acting at the behest of the State government and pointed to
the statement of the Coimbatore police commissioner, which was at
variance with the Home Secretary's statement, who had confirmed
that there was a foreign hand behind the blasts.

"Every circumstantial element pointed to the fact that it was an
attempt on the life of party president L K Advani and one had to
be blind not to see the connection," he added.

Mr Naidu also claimed that while its State president in Tamil
Nadu escaped, another party functionary was stabbed by a mob of
20 people in Coimbatore on Monday.

"This incident showed that the State administration had totally
lost control of the situation," he added.

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