Sonia Gandhi'ssullen silence has directly implicated her and her family in the Rs. 64 crore Bofors kickbacks scandal, which brought down her husband'sgovernment in the late 1980s. Several issues appear to have coalesced to bring about this state of affairs, not least of which is the Roman lady'sinability to understand the language and culture of Indian politics.
Her overweening ambition, married to an unbridled ambition and little real ability, have pushed the Congress party'ssupremo into a corner from which she is going to find it difficult to extricate herself. Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi is also implicated in the scandal, by default, because he too has disappeared from public view at a time that the Congress party and UPA regime is battling a crisis that is not its doing.
The sequence of events, as now know, is itself revealing and in fact, incriminating. Mr. Ottavio Quattrocchi, who became famous in India for his proximity to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi (who was the daughter-in-law of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi), which won his company, Snam Progetti several lucrative contracts in India, was arrested in Argentina on February 6, 2007, on the basis of a red corner notice from Interpol. The Indian embassy would have been informed the same day, and would have relayed the information to South Block immediately.
Yet the news was not only suppressed, but Ms. Sonia Gandhi used the time thus gained to try to impose President'srule on the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, though it was well known that her case was fragile and President Kalam was unwilling to risk a fiasco after the apex court'sstrictures on Bihar. Despite this, matters seemed to be moving in the direction of President'sRule when the Election Commission pre-empted matters by prematurely announcing the schedule for the UP elections. Hitherto informed sources suggest that the Commission acted at the nudging of the Prime Minister'sOffice, in order to avoid an avoidable embarrassment to the Government, should the President return the recommendation.
Soon thereafter, on the very day that Mr. Quattrocchi succeeded in getting bail in Argentina, the news was leaked in India that he had been detained. And the next day, it was made known?though unidentified sources?that his son, Missimio, was in New Delhi for three days while the father was being held in Latin America. It does not take a genius to realise that Junior Quattrocchi was in Delhi to meet the Congress party president and her family (after all Quattrocchi has said on several occasions that the families and the children were great friends), and it seems reasonable to assume that he did conduct some kind of ?business? with them, either directly, or indirectly.
Be that as it may be, the Government obliged the family by revealing from the Supreme Court that Mr. Quattrocchi has been arrested on the basis of a red corner alert given to Interpol, and Sonia Gandhi'sRoman countryman was out on bail by the time his son left India. Unfortunately for the Gandhi?s, however, their arrogance and distaste for rule of law seem to have upset some law abiding citizens in some quarters, and so, before Mr. Quattrocchi could benefit from the plot of ?non-action? in India, the cat was let out of the bag!
Now, regardless of whether or not he is brought to justice in India, he has brought the Bofors smoking gun directly into the drawing room of 10, Janpath; something that could not be fully achieved in the lifetime of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi! It speaks volumes of Sonia Gandhi'spolitical ineptitude that this has happened.
Naturally, the Manmohan Singh government is on the back foot, forced to defend the UPA chairperson from any role in the matter, when even the most illiterate peasant in India knows that Quattrocchi is Sonia'sgift to India, as BJP leader Arun Jaitley remarked. The government'ssilence has brought back to the limelight its previous action in freeing Rs 21 crore of the Bofors loot, stashed away in a London back, last year; which sum was immediately removed by Quattrocchi and taken elsewhere.
If there was no connection between Quattrocchi and the London loot, there would be no reason for India to hide the fact that he was arrested on February 6, and no need for his son to make an urgent visit to New Delhi. If the connection between Sonia Gandhi and the Quattrocchi'shad truly been severed, there would be no cause for the Junior'svisit to India.
This brings us to the issue of Ms. Sonia Gandhi and her family'sdirect complicity in the Bofors scandal. She must now tell us if she and any or both of her children are beneficiaries of the Bofors kickbacks, and if that is the reason she is obliged to help Ottavio Quattrocchi in his legal troubles. After all, the Roman was on the staff of an Italian public sector company when the scandal took place, so Bofors was not in the line of his official duty, and it therefore seems reasonable to assume that he was fronting for someone interested in the deal, and getting a cut for his service.
A common Italian nationality and a known friendship links Quattrocchi with Sonia Gandhi, and so it is high time the lady came clean and stopped forcing an increasingly unwilling congress party to shield her misdeeds forever. The Supreme Court has done well to issue notices to the government, given the level of subversion of national interest taking place and the sheer disregard for rule of law. But it might be in the fitness of things to now call Ms. Gandhi to explain her role in subverting justice and encouraging corruption in high places.