About two weeks back, The Hoot carried an interview with Sten Lindstrom, the Swedish police officer who carried out investigations in the Bofors case. He said that Amitabh Bachchan's name was implanted by the Indian investigators although he had no role in the Bofors kickbacks. This week, Newslaundry conducted an interview with Chitra Subramaniam, the journalist who actually broke the story in India. The fabulous Madhu Trehan conducted the interview with aplomb! Chitra has already written a book, India Is For Sale, on the controversy, but here again, she recounts some fascinating insights about the Bofors controversy. The brilliant team of Newslaundry has published a complete timeline of the Bofors case here (http://www.newslaundry.com/2012/06/bofors-the-complete-timeline/)
Chitra says that at first she was shocked by the scandal. She said that she believed in the inherent goodness of Indians. She said that she couldn't believe that we could do such things. She says when the scandal broke out, Rajiv Gandhi said that neither he nor any of his family members were involved in any of the kickbacks. She says that the Swedish radio had said that Indians were involved..they hadn't taken any name. This to her was clinching evidence against Rajiv Gandhi! Then she says that the investigators were told that they can reveal Arun Nehru's name but not that of Quatrochhi. This Madhu says, according to her, is another clinching evidence of Rajiv's involvement as he was apparently very close to Q. Another fascinating insight that Chitra recounts is that Martin Ardbo's (MD of Bofors) diary had one statement - Met Gandhi trustee's lawyers. This was the first actual proof the Gandhi name being mentioned. She says there was too much pressure being put on The Hindu, and that she left the paper to join The Indian Express. N Ram was under pressure to stop the publications. Madhu says the problem was that The Hindu published on a piecemeal basis, this actually was very frightening. Chitra says that she was actually scared for some time but then she had to do her job.
We all know of the allegations made against Barka Dutt during the Nira Radia scandal. N Ram had criticized her role in The Hindu. Now he is talking of journalistic ethics. But what was his role during the Bofors scandal when Chitra says she was very sure that the reasons for the delay in publishing the investigations were not journalistic, and were surely political. The Columbia University had brought a list of 50 Best stories since 1915 and Bofors was one of them. In the list, the story credit was given to N.Ram. So does he have the right to speak about ethics. Such hypocrites they are! In fact, The Hindu was perhaps the only newspaper that had actually brought full page ads supporting A Raja's innocence in the 2G scandal.
My favorite part of the interview is the one where she says about the shamelessness of it all. She says that it seemed that nobody had an interest in the case, and then Madhu says that it may be the other way round..that everybody had an interest in it, that is why no wanted to pursue the case. Chitra then recalls a line by MJ Akbar who had once written, "It is everybody's fault, hence it is nobody's fault." Madhu says that she now understands that why VP Singh didn't want to pursue the case after he won the elections as he had implanted Amitabh Bachchan's role but she fails to understand why the BJP didn't go after it? So it seems even the BJP had a role in the implants. Arun Jaitley might have had a role to play, because then the truth will be revealed. And the note that the CBI gave to Interpol is just mind boggling! Chitra says it was a scandal that actually tarred the image of all our institutions - Army, Judiciary and Executive and people say to her what is the point now. It is just 64 crores but she says it is about principles of being good..being ethical..and that is why she pursued the case. But the sad thing is that we may never know the truth! But kudos to Ms Subramaniam..clearly they don't make like her anymore.
Do watch the interview below.
Dialogue of the Day:
"Woh gutter ke liye jiye, aur gutter ke liye mare. Woh kaha karte the ki kisi desh ki unnati uske gutter se jani jati hai. Unhone apni sari jindgi gutter mein guzaar di."
- Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron!