New Delhi | Ahead of his visit to Sweden at the end of this month, President Pranab Mukherjee has said the Bofors case cannot be called a scandal as no Indian court has given its verdict on the case.
In an interview to Swedish national daily’ Dagens Nyhetter’ , Mr Mukherjee, in comments that could generate a controversy, said the Bofors scandal was ‘a media trial’ and that one shouldn’t get too carried away by the publicity it had received.
Mr Mukherjee, replying to a question on the Bofors deal that rocked India in the late 1980s and raised questions on the involvement of senior Congress leaders including the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, said, First of all – it is yet to be to be established that there was a scandal.
”No Indian court has established it. No process of trial is going on. And unless somebody, some authoritative institution describes it as a scandal and punishes, how could you say it is a scandal. You may have some doubts, you may have some suspicion, but that is not proof.
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.
Asked whether the Bofors episode was nothing but a media scandal, Mr Mukherjee said, I do not know. Im not describing it, youre putting that word. Dont 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.
The case dates back to 1986 when Swiss arms manufacturer Bofors landed a Rs 1,500 crore contract to supply Howitzer guns to India when the Congress was in power.
Swedish media reported that the company had paid massive kickbacks to Indian politicians and defence officials. The case cost then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi the general election in 1989 and dogged the Congress for decades.
Mr Mukherjee, who served as a Union Minister under successive Congress governments at the Centre, was the Defence Minister long after the Bofors case was first reported in 1987.
Subscribe to our email newsletter.