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Quattrocchi is a fugitive like Dawood: Advani

By Staff
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New Delhi, Feb 22 (UNI) Equating Ottavio Quattrocchi, the Italian accused in the Bofors case, with dreaded underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, Leader of the Opposition L K Advani (BJP) today asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to clear the confusion arising from the contradictory statements of the CBI and the government on the defreezing of the two London bank accounts of the fugitive businessman.

The issue led to two brief adjournments of the House, once during question hour and later during zero hour. The second adjournment came at 1240 hrs as the slogan-shouting Opposition members trooped into the well of the House, demanding that the Prime Minister make a clarification, instead of asking Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Suresh Pachouri to respond.

Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said the Opposition was stalling the proceedings deliberately after getting an opportunity to make its point, thereby denying a chance to the government to reply. He said he could not force the government to choose a particular Minister to respond as demanded by the Opposition.

In his 20-minute speech, Mr Advani said the contradicting statements had made it clear that either the CBI was misleading the court which was holding trial in the Bofors case or UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi was misleading the Left parties or the Prime Minister was misleading the nation.

While the CBI had informed the trial court just months before that the red corner notice against Quattrocchi was still valid and it wanted to pursue the case, the Prime Minister had stated that he had no knowledge about the defreezing of the accounts and it was the CBI's decision.

Further, Law Minister H R Bhardwaj had stated that there was virtually no evidence against Quattrocchi while Ms Gandhi had an hour-long meeting with CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechuri, who also wanted to know the reason for the defreezing of the accounts.

Ms Gandhi reportedly told Mr Yechuri that she had no prior knowledge about the CBI move.

Mr Advani said not only the NDA, but also the Left, which was supporting the government, was opposed to the defreezing of the accounts, from which Quattrocchi had subsequently withdrawn the money.

From the differing statements of the the Prime Minister, CBI, Ms Gandhi and Mr Bhardwaj, it was clear that they were trying to ''mislead'' the nation on the issue.

Mr Advani said Quattrocchi ''is no different from Dawood Ibrahim'' as both were evading arrest, and for whom the Interpol had issued red corner notices at the request of the CBI.

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