The actor, former Member of Parliament, a close friend of Late Rajiv Gandhi and the son of a renowned poet Late Harivansh Rai Bachchan has silently suffered a stigma for 25 years for no wrong in the Bofors Gun Deal bribery case and legitimately feels vindicated now after the revelations made by the Swedish Police Chief Stein Lindstorm in an interview to a website. These revelations have revived once again the Bofors scandal after 25 years in spite of all the efforts made by the real operators in collusion with the Indian Investigation Agencies. The political environment is once again charged and lively exchanges in the current session of the parliament are only expected. However, my focus in this post is on the question: Why was Amitabh Bachchan targeted?
Finding an answer to this apparently simple question will not be easy. Forming any opinion on the basis of media coverage, most of which might even turn out to be inspired, motivated, paid or outright “planted” by vested interests and arms lobbies,will be misleading. A thorough research of the political climate, culture and control cells will be required to understand. Even then, hearing the true story from people witness to the evolving scenario will help appreciate things in the right perspective. There is complete lack of that kind of literature on the subject. I have tried to cover that gap to some extent in my book on this website. Before the question why is answered, we need to understand “who” is this Amitabh Bachchan?
He is one of the childhood friends of Rajiv Gandhi, in whom Rajiv reposed faith as he did in some Judas, who stabbed him fatally Brutus way! Now in the Delhi of those days (by Delhi I am referring to the Central Government), anybody considered to be close to the centre of power, worked like a powerful magnet. No stone was left unturned to capture or buy the man/woman to do the biddings of the lobbies such as the arms dealers. It is just unbelievable that nobody approached Amitabh Bachchan with his brief for the assignment and offer of fees. The Army Chief Gen V.K. singh has exposed the audacity of the arms agents by initiating an inquiry against a retired army officer offering him rupees 140 million in bribe for the clearance of the purchase order of Tatra trucks through an agent in violation of the government policy to make all the purchases from the original equipment manufacturer(OEM). Amitabh was not even the Chief of the Indian Army ! But he was close to the Prime Minister of India and could have certainly helped, only if he chose to do so. What did Amitabh do? What was his reaction to the first attempt to test the waters? Did he betray any weakness for illegal money over integrity and national interests? Only Amitabh can answer. He should not remain silent. One thing is for sure: he didn’t take the bite. Had he done so, he would not have suffered so much pain. Rather, he might have become a minister, as learnt from the Radia Tapes about A. Raja’s efforts to become the Indian Telecommunications Minister in the Manmohan singh government in 2009. May be Amitabh didn’t even take the hint or decipher the signals beamed to him. We must remember that it was the time called the licence-quota-permit Raj (rule of the licence-permit-quota), undermining lawful governance in the country.
My apprehension is that Amitabh had unwittingly committed some indiscretion in his attempt to be more loyal to his friend than the others and sounded him about the goings on or disturbing developments. We should not forget that Rajiv was surrounded by some of the shrewedest ministers and party persons at that time, who were trying to control Rajiv exactly as they had done to his mother the Late Indira Gandhi.Since Amitabh was only a friend and no mainline politician with his own strong constituency, these personalities might have tried to command his loyalty to their business of corruption like taking bribes in arms purchases or other government contracts.Failing to make Amitabh “fall in line”, they must have dropped him as “unsuitable” and moved him to a code category of “dangerous”. I have analysed it all in my book too. Now that Amitabh had come to know about their mind, mechanism and men in action, he posed a great threat to their interests and needed to be bled to insignificance by an appropriate campaign to frame him in some big deal. Even Quattrocchi might have been roped in a similar manner. These lobbies have equal access and influence across political parties, media and international syndicates. Post Bofors, allegations against one of the loyalists of Prime Minister P.V.Narsimbha Rao sustain this belief.
Apart from any unwitting indiscretion of Amitabh Bachchan, Rajiv too committed similar indiscretion. A young man in a hurry, he wanted to do so many things so soon. He initiated economic liberalisation (Wrongly credited to Manmohan Singh), banned middlemen from defence purchases, went into mission mode technology development in areas like super computer, spurred research and development and took many more measures, several of them hitting hard the business interests of the lobbies.The hardest was the arms dealers. Rajiv was proving “difficult”. Amitabh was of no use. Quattrocchi agreed to provide advisory & escort services(A.E.Services) for a fees (perfectly normal by European standards). This was godsend. Rajiv Gandhi’s wife and Quattrocchi both were of Italian origin. In the Delhi of that time, name dropping helped people in all respects, even without the person invoking relationships. They simply surmised, and such illusions worked. Bofors deal was sealed, on the basis of no middlemen or commission agent being in between the government and the Nobel Industries of Sweden. However, payments were made and money deposited in foreign bank accounts. Unfortunately for the lobbies, or may be simply for their brazenness subsequently, the transactions converted it all into a great scandal of such grand proportion that it was the biggest bribery deal by that time. Now it has been surpassed by the Manmohan Singh government, under which scandals run into hundreds of billions (2G spectrum worth 1760000 millions, CWG worth 800000 millions and such huge amounts in Indian rupees).The scandal shook the parliament and put Rajiv on the mat. The name Quattrocchi was enough to make tongues wag, political temperatures to rise , media imagination to go wild and legal jargon becoming the lingua franca of the chattertti and the glitterati.Investigation agencies were put on the job to hunt for the culprits. The lobbies silently went into damage control mode. The Heads of the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) and the Research & Development Wing(RAW) need to clarify their acts of omission and commission in the cover up operations and extending protection to Quattrocchi. Exposure of Quattrocchi would not have harmed Raji Gandhi but only the operators hiding in the shadows. On the contrary, had Quattrocchi been allowed to be exposed, the rating of Rajiv would have gone up several times. That was not welcome to those ambitious elements in the Congress party, who saw no future for themselves or their progeny in the rule of the Dynasty, as the family of Rajiv is contemptuously referred to.Rajiv was drying up the customary sources of personal income and party funding from contracts and defence deals only to improve his personal image and ratings.One former Prime Minister went on record to say that there was nothing surprising in taking commission in defence deals as it has been going on since the time of Jawahar Lal Nehru. How could this “young man in a hurry” threaten to dry up those traditional sources? Oh! he was trying to be “Mr Clean”? The tirade had begun in the usual polished, suave and urbane style, with the help of the friendly media. Mr Clean was going too fast. The services of Quattrocchi were not engaged without long term planning. Once the scadal surfaced, it was time to strike.
It was killing not only two birds with one stone, but several. The Bofors scandal instantly cut Mr Clean to size. It was enough to present cleaner alternatives to him if and when the time arrived. Since the lobbies knew that Rajiv had not taken even one rupee commission in the Bofors deal, they simply pricked him and left him to bleed and nurse his wounds so long as he lived. Had he been alive, he would have also been ruing the pain of the past 25 years and deriving satisfaction in vindication of his integrity as defended by him in and outside of the parliament.Quattrochi would have spilled the beans, endangering all their future operations. Besides, he might have done everything possible to save the honour of Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv’s wife, if she were targeted. Rajiv’s other friends were not only too smart, they had their own followings. The need was for a weak link. Amitabh Bachchan amply qualified for that slot: the fellow was intimate with Mr Clean & personally enjoyed the highest cleanliness rating among all other Rajiv friends, had no constituency of his own, had zero practical experience of real politics like his friend Rajiv Gandhi, was the one man conscience keeper of Rajiv Gandhi, had come to know things he would never have learnt without being the VIP they took him to be and foiled their attempts to buy out Rajiv Gandhi, was emotional like his father the poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan and determined to play his cards solo. So the well networked lobbies, using their foreign infrastructure, created imaginary companies in his or his family members’ names, opened fake bank accounts and planted stories about him being connected to the Bofors deal. In the given circumstances and on the strength of Indian “investigative journalist”, people came to believe news stories about both Rajiv & Amitabh and even faintly suspected Sonia Gandhi only because of being an Italian. The CBI Chief has put out a clarification today that Amitabh Bachchan’s name had never figured in the investigation or the FIR(First Information Report). Funny! The CBI(central bureau of investigation) has kept enigmatically silent all these years! It never gave any such clarification either to the media or the parliament. Who is guilty of destroying reputations? Who is responsible for ruining democracy in India by manipulating the dislodging of Rajiv Gandhi and inducting men of straw as the Prime Minister and cabinet members after him? Will the government of India apprehend all those officers guilty of manufacturing the stories about the involvement of Rajiv Gandhi or Amitabh Bachchan in the Bofors scandal and punish them? Will the government of India bring to justice all those journalists who wrote big stories against Rajiv Gandhi and those supreme court lawyers who turned interrogators through the newspapers for days on end? The incumbent Home Minister of India, P. Chidambaram, is a Rajiv loyalist, who was appointed by him as the Minister of State in the Union Home Ministry, where he is now the cabinet minister. Will he muster enough courage to hunt all the culprits in the murky business of scandilising Rajiv Gandhi and Amitabh Bachchan? If he does not do it on top priority he will fail in doing justice to every one, including the aam aadmi.
Meanwhile, the Government Of India Must Tender An Apology To Amitabh Bachchan For All The DISCOMFITURE CAUSED TO HIM AND HIS FAMILY. Similar resolution is expected from the parliament of India, where both of them were brutally arraigned without any basis!