Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani said in Gandhinagar on Tuesday that the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) decision to remove Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, the lone surviving suspect in the Bofors gun payoff case, from its list of wanted persons reveals that the Congress was not confident of coming back to power.
"Manmohan Singh's party wanted to remove his name from the list. The decision to remove from the list indicates they think their party will not come back to power after the elections. I condemn the government's decision," Advani said.
Addressing a press conference in his constituency, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate said: "Rajiv Gandhi's party secured a majority in the 1984 elections but because of Bofors, it lost power in the next elections.
"Quattrocchi was considered close to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and he was allowed to run away when (the P V) Narasimha Rao government was in power.
"Later, he was declared wanted by the CBI. Though he was arrested in Argentina, his accounts were defreezed and he was allowed to take the money and efforts were made to wind up the case."
"If Quattrochi's name is deleted from the wanted list, this would be the last nail in the coffin of the judicial process in the Bofors scandal," he added.
Advani also accused the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) of using the CBI for political purpose.
"In the past five years, an important organisation such as the CBI had been used by the UPA government for political purposes. I hold both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi responsible for this," he said.
The case against Quattrocchi, known to be close to the late Rajiv Gandhi, who was prime minister in 1987 when the bribery scandal broke, and his wife Sonia, has taken tortuous twists and turns after he was named in a CBI chargesheet as the conduit for the Bofors bribe in 1999.
But he has managed to evade interrogation.
The nearest the CBI came to him was in February 2007 when Quattrocchi was detained in Argentina on the basis of an Interpol warrant.
But the CBI took time in translating documents that were to be presented in the designated court there and also put up a half-hearted effort for his extradition. It finally lost the case for his extradition four months later.