Bofors controversy: Congress backs Pranab Mukherjee's reported comments on the issue

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Hyderabad, May 29: Congress today backed the reported controversial remarks of President Pranab Mukherjee on Bofors issue to a Swedish daily and said allegations of kickbacks were levelled by opposition parties to defame the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

During an interview, ahead of his visit to Sweden beginning May 31, Mukherjee had said Bofors wasn't a scandal, but rather a publicity "trial".

Bofors issue: Cong backs Prez's comments.
"I think he (Mukherjee) is correct. The President of India has said what we all (Congress) have been saying for the past 30 years," senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told PTI here.

Also read: President Pranab Mukherjee ignites Bofors scandal row; what's the controversy all about: Explained

"That (kickbacks) was a mere allegation on the part of Bharatiya Janata (Party) and other regional parties...they wanted to pull down the government of Rajiv Gandhi," he said.

"Those were mere allegations to defame Rajiv Gandhi. There was no truth behind that and each successive government after Rajiv Gandhi and even during his time (as Prime Minister) opposition parties tried their best to find some fault but they could not find any thing," Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha said.

Also read: Bofors scandal was a media trial, charges 'yet to be proved' in court, says Pranab Mukherjee

Allegations that kickbacks were paid in the procurement of 155mm howitzer field Bofors guns from Sweden had plagued the Rajiv Gandhi government in the late 1980s and had become a big election issue in 1989 in which the former Prime Minister had to face defeat.

During his visit to Sweden, the President would be accompanied by Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Hans Raj Ahir, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and BJP MP Ashwani Kumar, besides Vice Chancellors of seven universities.

PTI 

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