New Delhi, Dec 19 Insisting that he never ever discussed Bofors with Rajiv Gandhi, senior Congress party member Mani Shankar Aiyar claimed that Rajiv Gandhi had no role to play in the alleged payoffs.
“Despite the fact that at that time, V.P. Singh constantly claimed in his election rallies that he would produce the secret Swiss bank account number in which the money was deposited a week after coming to power, nothing happened. In fact, Rajiv Gandhi challenged him in Parliament to place the entire documentary evidence against him in the House, something which he failed.”
When asked about Rajiv Gandhi’s closeness to Italian businessman Ottavio Quattocch, Aiyar stressed that the security log books of Rajiv Gandhi’s house could clearly prove how many times Quattocch visited his house. “However, the present government is not really interested in the facts and just wants to keep Bofors alive.”
Speaking at the book launch of London-based international arbitrator and lawyer (Zaiwalla & Co Solicitors), Sarosh Zaiwalla’s book ‘Honour Bound’ published by HarperCollins at the India International Centre in the capital, Aiyar insisted that there was much more to Bofors than what has been mentioned in the book by the author.
Zaiwalla, in the late 1980’s represented Ajitabh Bachchan (actor Amitabh Bachchan’s brother) against the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nhyeter that alleged that Ajitabh held the sixth account in the Bofors’ ‘kickbacks’.
Mani Shankar Aiyar, who was on the stage with the author and fellow panelists Ashok Tandon, former media advisor to Prime Minister (late) Atal Bihari Vajpayee and BBC analyst Ashish Ray said that the relations between Rajiv Gandhi and Bachchans had soured in 1987.
“Why would then Rajiv trust them with the alleged funds to transfer? Bachchans were the first to desert a sinking ship. Within days, Ajitabh left the country and Amitabh resigned from his Lok Sabha seat.” He went on to add: “Also, Zaiwalla has just said on stage that he had a two-hour meeting with Rajiv had 10, Janpath and was convinced that he found him completely innocent.”
Aiyar added that he was disappointed that Zaiwalla had not devoted much enough pages to the former Indian foreign Minister Madhav Solanki, alleged to have handed over a “sealed envelope to a minister in the government of Switzerland.” The envelope (1992) reportedly contained a memorandum dissuading the Swiss authorities from further processing the Letters Rogatory (LR).
Talking about the years spent in England, the author, one of the best-known Indian lawyers in England, who has handled several high profile cases stressed that he had never faced any kind of racial discrimination. “The British society is classist, but not racist. They value fairness and integrity.
“This is not a vanity book, but an attempt to exhort Indians to have a distinct Indian footprint in a globalised world,” said Zaiwalla.