Explain Quattrocchi link, BJP tells Sonia Gandhi
Meeting against the backdrop of reports of Bofors kickbacks, the Bharatiya Janata Party's National Executive on Sunday decided to go after the first family of Congress, alleging that Ottavio Quattrocchi's involvement in the pay-offs lead 'directly to the doorstep of Sonia Gandhi'.
Dubbing 2011 as the year of 'cover-ups' after the year gone by was one of scams, the BJP Executive announced that it will take up the issue of corruption at 'every possible legal forum' and mobilise public opinion about 'corruption of the Congress' by organising rallies.
"We think the way the kickbacks were given, having been very clearly established by the Income Tax appellate authority identifying Ottavio Quattrocchi, who all of us know had enviable access to the then prime minister... takes this whole issue clearly to the doorstep of shrimati Soniaji," party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said, after the conclave adopted a political resolution which was scathing in its criticism of the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance.
The BJP also sought a clarification from the Gandhi family on its relations with Quattrocchi and his dealings.
Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi
'Where is all that money?'
"Therefore, today there is a very clear need for the first family of the Congress to explain where they stand on this. Who was Quattrocchi and what was his link with the household of the then prime minister (Rajiv Gandhi) and if indeed Mr Quattorcchi received the kickbacks, where is all that money," Sitharaman asked.
To a specific question on whether the BJP has decided to target the All India Congress Commitee chief, she said, "The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal is a quasi-judicial body which has found Quattrocchi guilty and he has direct and very clear access to the then prime minister. Therefore, what do you expect us to conclude?"
Besides, she said the assertions of former telecom minister A Raja and Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, that they had obtained 'due clearances' for cost escalations, leads to the "doorsteps of the Prime Minister's Office".
Image: Ottavio Quattrocchi
'We want a JPC'
"He (PM) also has to come out clean on those clearances... clearances by joint secretaries would not have been sufficient," she said, declaring that corruption in the 2G scam, Adarsh Housing Society scam and Commonwealth Games will also be highlighted.
On whether the BJP's demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the 2G issue meant that they will stall the budget session of Parliament, Sitharaman said, "We are very firm on the JPC demand. There is no change in our position."
When asked repeatedly whether the remark means that the main opposition has no plans to work in the budget session, she said, "We have not said that. We want a JPC."
The resolution states that the more documentary proof comes out, the more the government tries to cover them up. "Congress does corruption and then covers that up. For 23 years, the Bofors case was being covered up till the last day," she said.
Image: The Bofors artillery gun
Is Yeddy bigger than the party's image?
The BJP spokesperson faced a volley of questions related to Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, who is facing charges of land scam, and whether he was 'bigger than the party's image'.
"There is a judicial inquiry going on. The party is also looking into it. We have already said we will take a call," Sitharaman said.
She parried a question on whether the BJP was setting a new kind of precedent by allowing Yeddyurappa to continue in office when a judicial probe was on. "The state government has given you enough inputs... which are self-explanatory. Today, we are talking about tackling the issue of various scandals and scams of the UPA," she said.
The political resolution was moved by Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and was seconded by her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley. Sitharaman replied in the negative when asked whether the issues of the reported confession of Swami Aseemanand and right-wing terror came up for discussion.
Image: B S Yeddyurappa
'Sonia Gandhi had close association with Quatrochhi'
Veteran BJP leader L K Advani on Sunday said Congress president Sonia Gandhi had a close association with Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, who was a 'regular' at her house.
"Congress president Sonia Gandhi had a close association with Quatrochhi, who was a regular at her house. Though I am not making an allegation against any person, but people should know the details as our image has been internationally tarnished (due to the Bofors pay-off scam)," Advani told a National Democratic Alliance rally at the conclusion of the BJP national executive meet.
"It is common knowledge that the Bofors issue was suppressed by the government. Even the Income Tax Tribunal had pointed out Quatrochhi had taken commission from Bofors and he should be taxed accordingly, but the CBI suppressed it," Advani alleged.
"Our image has been tarnished. I appeal to the prime minister to either protest or order further investigation," he said.
Image: L K Advani