Cardiac arrest claims Bofors scandal middleman Quattrocchi’s life

File picture of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, the middleman in infamous Bofors scandal, who died on 12th July, 2013, citing cardiac arrest in Milan

After nearly 20 years of the revelation of  the Bofors scandal, an interesting turn came to light with the death of  one of its accused, Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, a representative of petrochemical firm, Snamprogetti. Bofors was one of the largest corruption scandals in India, involving politicians like Rajiv Gandhi, dealing with an exorbitant amount of INR640 million (US$11 million),which was exposed through a team of journalists led by N. Ram of The Hindu. The 74-year old businessman died due to a cardiac arrest.

Ottavio Quattrocchi was charged with being the medium in the bribes that were allegedly paid to speed up the Bofors gun deal, signed between the Congress government and now dysfunctional Swedish arms company AB Bofors.

The Bofors chargesheet filed by the CBI  in 1991 named Quattrocchi as one of the accused in a case involving INR64 crore payoffs for supply of Swedish Howitzer guns to the Indian Army in the 90’s. The INR1600 crore contract was executed in 1986.

On March 4th, 2011, Quattrocchi was discharged by the Tis Hazari court for the alleged payoffs after CBI withdrew prosecution charges against him, putting a full stop to a major chapter in the Bofors tale. An application for the withdrawal of the case against Quattrocchi was filed by the public prosecutor on October 3, 2009.

The CBI failed to extradite Quattrocchi to India from Malaysia in 2002 and Argentina in 2007,  due to lack of extradition treaty with these countries.

Defence Minister, AK Anthony said, “The government does not plan to launch any fresh investigation into the Bofors scandal and that Quattrocchi stands as a “free man” as he could not be extradited even after 20 years of registration of the case.”

With the death of one of the key accused in one of the greatest scams of our country, it can be said that the Congress government will close the case. This lets the Congress leave behind their past misdeeds of such an exorbitant amount, which could have been used for the progress of the country instead.

Bofors scandal will remain an epitome of how widespread corruption is in Indian politics, compromising the security of our country. It will always signify the misdeeds of Congress in 1980-90, which will haunt them for times to come.

Gehlot being framed on Facebook: Congress

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot | Image:

The Pradesh Congress Committee [PCC] in Rajasthan, hit back on Wednesday against the remarks made by the Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP]. A day after Gehlot was accused by the BJP of buying ‘Likes’ for his official Facebook page the state department’s IT team launched a full-scale investigation into the matter.

A BJP spokesperson claimed that the chief minister’s official Facebook page ‘Apka Mukhyamantri‘ (Your Chief Minister) had 1,69,077 likes till June one and it shot up to to 2,14,639 by June 30.”This is a ‘social media scam’ involving Gehlot. Some IT companies sell fake ‘Likes’ and it is apparent with its sudden rise that unfair practice to gain popularity on Facebook was involved,” party spokesperson Jyoti Kiran said in a statement.

While the chief minister [CM] himself refrained from speaking out over the debacle, other members from his party alleged the BJP of sabotage. “The BJP is obsessed with its social media image and we are certain that it (the Likes from Istanbul) is their doing”, PCC spokesperson Archana Sharma claimed. “We suspect the BJP must have got some IT firms to do this at an attempt to frame the CM.”

Several officials who were in-charge of handling Gehlot’s Facebook account and even some of his blogs, that the sharp influx of ‘Likes’ left them surprised as well. Most of these ‘Likes’ seemed to have originated from Istanbul in Turkey. In an official statement, Lokesh Sharma, administrator of Gehlot’s official page on Facebook said, “There is no connection between the number of  ‘Likes’ and ‘People talking about this’ features.” He also said that the latter showed the number of people visiting the page and was not directly related to the Likes. “People anywhere in the world can visit the page. One need not buy likes from Istanbul to be the most talked about person.

Rahul Gandhi appointed Congress party’s new Vice-President

New Congress VP Rahul Gandhi with PM Manmohan Singh
New Congress VP Rahul Gandhi with PM Manmohan Singh

Rahul Gandhi , the 42 year old leader on Saturday was officially raised up to the number two position after being appointed the Vice –President of the congress party. It was formalized at the meeting of the Congress working committee (CWC). Amidst all this his role in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls is yet to be decided.  But it seems the opposition party‘The Bharatiya Janata Party’ (BJP) is none too happy with the move.



















Jayalalitha: Centre discriminates against Non-Cong CMs

Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalitha walked out of National Development Council(NDC) meet today after her speech was cut short to 10 minutes. She said that it stifled the voice of the Chief Ministers who are in the opposition. Center rejected the allegation of preferential treatment and said the Congress Chief Ministers were treated the same way.



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FDI: Now a reality

Setting Up Shop

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on Friday won the Rajya Sabha vote on implementation of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail. The Congress-led government scored 123 votes over the Opposition’s 109 votes while 19 members abstained from voting. The credit for the victory goes to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), whose support was crucial for this major vote. The Samajwadi Party (SP) staged a walkout just before the voting began, effectively excusing them from this policy reform debate.

There is ambiguity on the number of votes as the total votes are more than the number of members in the Upper House. The government as a result ordered a recalculation. The motion opposing the entry of FDI in retail has also been defeated in the Lok Sabha or the Lower House.

This UPA victory allows the entry of foreign equity into Indian markets. Giants such as Walmart and Tesco will be able to buy a stake of up to 51% in multi-brand retailer. The Opposition which includes Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC) amongst others has opposed this move saying that it will cause small business owners and retailers to shut shop.

The triumph of the government has brought along declaration that the Indian reform process can’t be stopped now. The leaders of the Opposition however see the support of FDI as a double standard game. According to Communist Leader D. Raja, the Congress identifies itself with multinationals and then claims to stand with the aam aadmi.

Whether this move brings about a wave akin to the 1991 liberalization remains to be seen but the government’s win in both the houses clears the way for them to push forth further reforms. The change in the policies has been long overdue and the FDI can serve as an example to any further reformers who wish to bring in a new era of India and its economy.