'Rajiv didn't want Bofors payoff case to be probed' | india | Hindustan Times
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'Rajiv didn't want Bofors payoff case to be probed'

In a shocking revelation, a former Union minister and friend of late PM, says he had been stopped from investigating who received the kickbacks.

india Updated: Jul 27, 2006 22:28 IST

Former Indian minister of state for defence Arun Singh has said that late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi stopped him from investigating who received alleged commissions from Swedish arms maker Bofors in a controversial deal in the 1980s.

In an exclusive interview with a private TV channel, Singh said he was convinced that 'somebody' did receive kickbacks in the deal.

Singh said he did not know who that party is, but felt he could have found out, had Gandhi not stopped him from inquiring into it the way he wanted.

In 1987, Bofors was accused of paying huge commissions as kickbacks to unidentified individuals in India and abroad for securing a whopping contract to supply artillery guns to the Indian Army.

Asked if he was certain Gandhi himself did not receive any payments, Singh said: "I cannot say that. I don't think that he stopped me on the grounds that he took it. I have absolutely no idea of who took money in Bofors."

"I know only this much—somebody had. My argument—which cost me my friend—had nothing to do with who took the money. It had to do with who would catch the people who took the money. In my opinion, it was the job of the executive."

Singh said this suggestion did not go down well with Gandhi.

"Gandhi believed, I think, that if I made a mistake, or I failed then he would have to carry the can for what would then be perceived as a major cover-up."

The former minister described a heated argument with Gandhi that ended their friendship.

"What hurt me the most was he wasn't sure if I was making a power play. That was the biggest insult. I left him with great bitterness."