BJP pulls up Congress, demands SIT probe in Bofors case

New Delhi, Jan 3 (ANI): Following an Income Tax Tribunal claims that kickbacks of Rs 41 crore were paid to late Win Chaddha and Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in the Howitzer gun deal, the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) on Monday slamming the ruling Congress party demanded that the government set up a Special Investigative Team (SIT) to probe the Bofors scam afresh.

The Opposition targeted Congress President Sonia Gandhi in particular; saying Gandhi and rest of her family knew Quattrocchi personally and had favoured the Italian businessman, who acted as the wheeler-dealer.

Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley hitting out at Sonia Gandhi said the ruling party should not cover up the scam, but ensure the guilty are punished.

"In the year 1986 why Mr. Quattrocchi was paid this money? Ironically for Mrs. Sonia Gandhi this is a timely reminder that this country doesn't need five points to fight corruption. You only need one point to fight corruption. Start sending those guilty of corruption to jail, it will act as an deterrent and don't cover up," he said.

Jaitley came down heavily on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for giving a clean chit to Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi and Win Chaddha in the Bofors deal case.

"On one hand you have the CBI, which after a detailed investigation took up a position that no bribes or kick backs have been paid and has closed the case. You know (we) have the revenue wing of the government through its highest appellate authority, taking a view that kick backs and bribes have been paid and income tax is payable," said Jaitley.

"The entire fraud which was perpetuated on this country by the CBI at the behest of its political masters in the Congress party stands unravelled," he added.

The tribunal says kickbacks were paid to Quattrocchi and Win Chadha in the nearly Rs. 1,500 crore Bofors deal.

The kickbacks violated rules, as a middleman is illegal in defence deals in India. Therefore, Quattrocchi and Chaddha are liable to pay income tax on bribe money they got while living in India.

It also claimed that due to the kickbacks, India had to pay almost Rs. 160 crore extra for the guns.

The Bofors scandal was a major corruption scandal in India in the 1980s; the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and several others were accused of receiving kickbacks from Bofors AB for winning a bid to supply India's 155 mm field howitzer.

The case came to light during Vishwanath Pratap Singh's tenure as Defence Minister.

The scale of the corruption was far worse than any that India had seen before, and directly led to the defeat of Gandhi's ruling Indian National Congress party in the November 1989 general elections. It has been speculated that the scale of the scandal was to the tune of Rs. 400 million. (ANI)

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