Lucknow: The Congress said today that the move to pursue the Bofors pay-off case was an attempt by the central government to gain “cheap publicity” ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
A day after the CBI filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging a 2005 order of the Delhi High Court quashing all charges against accused persons in the politically-sensitive case, All India Congress Committee general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters in Lucknow that it was “nothing but a move to gain cheap publicity”.
The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha alleged that the government had devised a new tactic, under which opposition leaders are “harassed” through various central agencies such as the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, and asserted that they not get bogged down and fight the BJP “with full strength”.
“Those who had come to power at that time by linking former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s name with it (the Bofors case) used to show a chit threatening that it had the names of those involved…but they never revealed it even when they were at the helm. Now Bofors is being talked about again. This is nothing but a move to gain cheap publicity,” he said.
The Rs 1,437-crore deal between India and Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors for the supply of 400 155mm howitzer guns for the Indian Army was entered into on March 24, 1986, when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister.
Swedish Radio on April 16, 1987, had claimed that the company had paid bribes to top Indian politicians and defence personnel.
The CBI on January 22, 1990 had registered the FIR for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery under the IPC and other sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Mr Azad said, “The BJP has devised a new tactic for contesting elections, under which opposition leaders are harassed through the CBI, ED and Income Tax so as to get them busy for all of five years…We will, however, not get bogged down…and contest the elections with full strength.”
The AICC general secretary, who is also in charge of party affairs in Uttar Pradesh, convened a meeting of party leaders and workers.
On the Kasganj incident, he said such communal flare-ups were not confined to the town and that the BJP had been trying to polarise the society in the name of caste and religion in states governed by it.
“The BJP has come to power on the basis of caste and religion…It is alright if they form government on the basis of their works and policies but not by dividing society…they have got nothing to do with development,” Mr Azad said.
To a question, Mr Azad said that almost all major opposition parties attended a meeting convened by former Congress president Sonia Gandhi recently. “We want that all like-minded parties to work together,” he added.