New Delhi(dna): Days before his visit to Sweden, President Pranab Mukherjee in an interview to Sweden Daily ‘Dagens Nyheter’ talks about Bofors Scandal.
In the interview, President Mukherjee was asked to comment on the Bofors Scandal in India in the 1980s. To this he replied, “First of all – it is yet to be to be established that there was a scandal. No Indian court has established it.”
He further said, “I was the defence minister of the country long after Bofors, and all my generals certified that this is one of the best guns we are having. Till today, Indian army is using it. The so-called scandal which you talk of, yes, in the media, it was there. There was a media trial. But I’m afraid, let us not be too much carried by publicity.”
During the interview he was asked if the Bofors Scandal was nothing but a media scandal. To this, President Mukherjee replied, “I do not know. I’m not describing it, you’re putting that word. Don’t put that word. What I am saying is that in media it was publicised. But up to now, no Indian court has given any decisive verdict about the alleged scandal.”
(Read the Dagens Nyheter interview here: “Bofors was a media trial”, says President of India)
In 1980s, a deal between AB Bofors of Sweden and Indian Government was signed worth $285 million (Rs 1500 crore). The deal said AB Bofors would supply 410 155-mm howitzers to the Indian Army. In 1987, a Swedish Radio Broadcast alleged that Bofors paid illegal commissions to top Indian politicians and key defence officials before signing the deal.
An investigation was carried out which threw up the then Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi’s name in the scandal. The Congress lost the elections in 1989 owing to this controversy.
Later, in 1997, years after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, CBI filed formal charges against him and others including a Sweden broker Ottavio Quattrocchi, AB Bofors and its former chied Martin Ardbo, AB Bofors agent Win Chadha.