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'Rajiv Gandhi lost his life because of Bofors'

February 06, 2004

Bofors is an emotional issue for the Congress party.

For 17 years the people of India ridiculed the Congress party by raking up this issue time and again.

Rajiv Gandhi was defamed because his government purchased AB Bofors guns for the Indian army.

I would go to the extent of saying that Rajiv Gandhi lost his life because of Bofors.

He had an unprecedented mandate with 405 members in Parliament. A conspiracy was hatched to bring a bad name to him and his party.

Every street and every mohalla were painted with slogans 'Bofors ka chor, Bofors ka chor.' He kept saying he had nothing to do with the purchase or receiving kickbacks, but nobody was prepared to listen to him.

Such a campaign was launched that the people of India started believing that Rajiv Gandhi had taken money in the Bofors deal.

The net result of this sinister campaign was that he lost the mandate of the people in the next Lok Sabha election. Once Rajiv Gandhi came into the Opposition, the same forces who plotted his downfall started demanding that his SPG [Special Protection Group] security cover be withdrawn. The withdrawal of the SPG and his death thereafter are firm indicators that his death is directly or indirectly related to the Bofors gun deal.

After the verdict of the Delhi high court his soul must now rest in peace. After 17 long years, he got justice.

I thank Justice J D Kapoor of the Delhi high court for giving this historic judgment in favour of a great man. The judgment has brought the truth before the people of this country.

Political parties should refrain from making false and baseless charges against political leaders merely for the sake of electoral gain. There should be a code of conduct to end this unhealthy practice.

Mudslinging will eventually destroy the administrative system of this great country.

Who should be held accountable for the injustice done to Rajiv Gandhi?

All those who are guilty of the vilification campaign against Rajiv Gandhi should be prosecuted, whether they are politicians or officers of the Central Bureau of Investigation.

After 17 years, one is told there is no evidence against Rajiv Gandhi. If this is so, then why was his name sent for trial as an accused?

I would say we should find out how much money has been spent by the present government in sending CBI officers to various countries for investigation.

I am convinced the money spent on the investigation would be far more then the one alleged to have been received in kickbacks.

Public money has been wasted on a needless investigation. Those who went to Switzerland and had a good time there in the name of investigation of the lies against Rajiv Gandhi should be prosecuted.

Though the Congress does not believe in exploiting such issues for its political gain, it would help the people of this country understand that the party had been deliberately targeted. Rajiv Gandhi's claim that he had nothing to do with the Bofors kickbacks now stands vindicated.

People like V P Singh and the entire BJP leadership who shouted from the rooftops that Rajiv Gandhi had received money for the deal should tender an unconditional apology to his family -- Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka and Rahul and the nation.

V P Singh became prime minister on the strength of these allegations.

There were two allegations against the Rajiv Gandhi government. One was the Bofors gun deal, the other was the Airbus A-320 deal.

The Delhi high court has cleared the air on Bofors. The CBI has filed a closure report in the Airbus case saying it has found no substance in the allegations made against the Rajiv Gandhi government.

Rajiv Shukla, journalist, television producer and now a Congress member of the Rajya Sabha, knew Rajiv Gandhi intimately when he was prime minister. He spoke to Chief Correspondent Onkar Singh.

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