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|Sonia Gandhi and the hidden trail|
By John MacLithon
22 Dec 2010
The Indian media has begun even doubting Manmohan Singh's integrity — mental, at least — as he must have been knowing for nearly two years that the Indian exchequer was defrauded of `1.76 lakh crores. But so far, Sonia Gandhi has been spared.
Yet, if you are an observer of Indian politics, as I have been, since I landed back in India in the early 'Sixties, you have to come to the conclusion that most of the funds of scams end up in the coffers of political parties, particularly of the Congress.
Today the DMK is taking the brunt of the blame, but actually political parties have been forced to follow suit after the grand old party of India's independence, began using percentages allotted by foreign companies on mega deals, military and otherwise, to secretly fund its election campaigns and give freebies to poor villagers. Of course, Bofors was the first one of the big scams to be uncovered.
I remember in the mid-Eighties a Swiss radio colleague of mine from Radio Suisse Romande, telling me that Amitabh Bachchan's brother, Ajitabh, (when the Bachchan family was still close to the Gandhis), was one of the first safe keepers of the kickbacks of the Swedish canon makers. Exposes of Swedish newspaper, Dagens Nhyeter further confirmed it, though Ajitabh went to court against them.
There is no doubt, further says my Swiss friend, that part of the Bofors money is still in Switzerland. Indeed, we are all waiting for the Swiss banks to reveal (under US pressure) the names of all the dictators, thieves, dishonest rulers of so many countries in the world, who have stashed their ill-gotten money in UBS bank or Credit Suisse.
Meanwhile, all roads seem to lead to Sonia Gandhi: she is the first Lady of India, although she is a simple MP like hundreds of others, the ultimate arbiter, and nothing of importance is decided without her caveat. The immense power she wields within the Congress cannot be only due to her charisma, of her having the Gandhi name or having brought cohesion in the Congress.
It is also, and perhaps mainly, because she holds the purse strings of tremendous amounts of money. These party funds are overt: all the foundations, Rajiv, Indira, Nehru, etc, which store thousands of crores; and covert, starting with the Bofors scam. Where are the secret bank accounts where the scam money is stored? Under whose names are they operated? How is the money brought back to India? Who will answer all these questions?
John, who was a radio journalist covering South Asia for 30 years, is the author of Hindutva, Sex & Adventures (Roly Books, Delhi)