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Advani fires: Q is like Dawood

The Lok Sabha witnessed an uproar over defreezing of Italian businessman Quattrocchi's bank accounts.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2006 15:50 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

The Lok Sabha witnessed an uproar over the defreezing of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi's bank accounts, with Opposition leader LK Advani seeking answers from the Government.

The BJP-led Opposition demanded thesuspension of Question Hour to take up the issue.

Advani raised the Quattrocchi issue during zero hour in a lengthy 20-minute speech during which he questioned the government's direction to defreeze the businessman's London accounts.

This was strongly opposed by treasury benches.

He even said that Quattrocchi was like underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

Despite Speaker Somnath Chatterjee's assurance to members that he would allow them to raise the matter later, the Opposition did not relent.

He asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to explain why Additional Solicitor General B Dutta had gone to London to give the British authorities the green signal for the defreezing.

"The Prime Minister said it was done by the CBI. If it was the CBI, why did it give an affidavit in the court saying that Quattrocchi is still a fugitive," he said.

"The country would like to know what happened over the issue."

Alleging that people in the government had a "soft corner" for Quattrocchi, he went on to say, "I would like to know whether Sonia Gandhi...".

A Congress MPs erupted in protest, not allowing him to finish.

Speaker Somnath Chatterjee then intervened to say "Let the government answer you. She does not represent the government".

With the treasury benches protesting in the background, Advani continued his speech and said everybody in the country, including Left parties, had protested the government's move to give a green signal to de-freezing of the accounts.

He said Quattrocchi was a person who had publicly said that he did not believe in the Indian judicial system and would not appear in court. He had also said he was a close friend of the Gandhi family.

As the remark drew fresh ire from the Congress benches, Advani asked why the government did not appeal to the Supreme Court against the High Court verdict clearing the names of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and the Hinduja brothers in the Bofors case.

He found support in Prabhunath Singh of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), who said that the entire issue was a "conspiracy to break up the country".

Ultimately, the Speaker had to adjourn the house with "great sorrow and condemnation".

First Published: Feb 22, 2006 11:55 IST