January 4, 2011

Bofors: seven reasons why it is still relevant

Rajiv Gandhi indulged in it, VP Singh exploited it, NDA unsuccessfully tried to use it to kill Congress, Congress has been trying hard to bury it, but Bofors is such a sticky gun that it surfaces again and again.

If you feel that the political gun powder of Bofors scam is used up due to age and the gun proving their worth during Kargil war, you might prove wrong. If you feel that it is too minuscule a bribe case as compared to the latest scams, you might again prove wrong. Bofors has the potential to embarrass Congress like no other scam, India News Today will explain why.

One, Bofors is the mother of scams involving big politicos in India. Whenever you talk of corruption at the highest places, you will recall Bofors. It is now a generic name of sort, like Surf for washing powders, Maggi for noodles and Favicol for gums.

The second point is an extension of the point raised above: since it is a generic name, it has become part of the folklore and has a place in people’s memories. You say ‘Bofors’ and people in their forties and above will recall it. Even those not active in politics or interested too much in news will remember something shady done by Rajiv… some Quattorcchi guy from Italy in news for taking commission… some relevance of Sonia’s coming from Italy…

Three, Bofors involved the Prime Minister, none lower. Though Narasimha Rao too was also dragged into securities scam by Harshad Mehta, it did not stick on him.

Four, Bofors involves the Gandhi family – the tower of faith and fountainhead of power for the Congress. Nothing embarrasses Congress more than a finger pointed at Gandhi family.

Five, Bofors has come at a wrong time. In the season of scams, one more reference to scam means that much more trouble. Moreover, CBI’s failure to nab the culprits in Arushi case and its closure of Bofors case give the impression to the common man that CBI is dysfunctional and biased.

Six, it blunts the government’s and Sonia’s new ploy to avoid JPC on 2G scam: to have new laws to fight corruption. “If you are serious about fighting corruption, punish those already found guilty,” will be a common man’s refrain.

Seven, it will unite and embolden the opposition. With time, the opposition was getting divided on JPC issue and the matter had the potential to become a drag for the opposition. On Bofors, left and BJP (and also the erstwhile socialist splinter groups) will have a unanimous stand: bring culprits to the book. They also will be able to project that they have been proved right that commission was indeed paid to people close to Rajiv-Sonia.

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