Speaking in the Kerala Assembly on Monday after his party colleague PK Gurudasan moved an adjournment motion, CPI-M leader VS Achuthanandan noted that controversies involving Italy always crop up whenever the Congress is in power.
He said that Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi routed bribes to the accused in the Bofors scam during Rajiv Gandhi's tenure. However, Speaker G Karthikeyan stressed that the former prime minister's name should not be mentioned as Rajiv Gandhi had nothing to do with the marines row. The speaker later ordered the remark to be expunged from the Assembly's records.
Achuthanandan also pointed out that Congress leaders were at the helm of affairs when Italian company Finmeccanica paid kickbacks to clinch the Rs 3600 crore VVIP chopper deal.
The state government should have informed the Supreme Court that the marines namely Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre can very well cast votes online if they indeed want to exercise their franchise in the Italian elections, Achuthanadan said. He demanded to know why the duo were permitted to visit Italy despite both of them facing murder charges in India.
In his reply, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy cited the Italian government's affidavit that online voting is not possible in their country. He also referred to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's assurance that the Centre would definitely ensure the return of two marines to face trial in India.
Chandy expressed his annoyance over Gurudasan linking Sonia Gandhi with the Italian marines and averred that the Congress president had fully backed the state government's stand.
With the speaker rejecting their plea for a discussion on the adjournment motion, all the legislators belonging to the opposition parties then staged a walkout.