Binayak Sen – connecting the dots.

Arindam Bandyopadhyay

(published in www.ivarta.com)

Fans of Dr. Binayak Sen, a Maoist sympathizer, convicted with life imprisonment for charges of sedition and anti-national activities, by trial court and whose initial bail appeal was rejected by Chhattisgarh high court, have ample reasons for jubilation in recent times. Not only did the Supreme Court grant him a bail but he was also appointed to the National Health Planning Commission’s steering committee.

It is no secret that Dr Sen enjoys a huge popularity and has a long list of national and international supporters, including Nobel laureates like Amartya Sen, other prominent Indians including leftist academician Romila Thapar, Christian leader John Dayal, ill-famed activists Teesta Setalvad, self proclaimed Swami Agnivesh and Suzanna Arundhati Roy, a seditionist and a pro-Maoist herself.

Statements of support for him had come from Amnesty International, The Global Health Council, and various national and international institutions like Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University, Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cambridge of United States.

His arrest has even been lamented on a British Medical Journal editorial and termed a ‘mockery of justice’ by Lancet, another medical journal form England.

No wonder, he was endorsed by 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights and the South Korean Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in 2011.

The Binayak Sen case has brought our judicial system on to the dissection table. A section of the citizen seem to think that trial court and high court decisions need not be honored and respected, unless a verdict is favorable. The widespread nature of the protests and the vitriolic condemnation that was thrown from all quarters at the lower court’s decision just because it was against the likings of Dr Sen and his supporters, starting from the Maoists themselves up to those in Vatican City, defies logic, unless it is believed that some people think they are special and hence above ‘common laws’ of the country. Unfortunately such whirlwind of protest has also dragged in many unsuspecting onlookers from various walks of life, from students to general public, artists to intellectuals, to join the demonstration across the country and abroad.

Nevertheless, in the imperfect socio-political system that we belong to, where scams and scandals are tumbling from the closet almost daily, there is bound to be some skepticism when unusual things happens specially involving controversial people. And most will agree that nominating Binayak Sen, who has not yet been cleared from his sentence for life imprisonment for charges of sedition and anti-national activities, to the National Health Planning Commission’s steering committee is not only unusual but also against all norms and propriety

The least one can hope is that our Prime Minister, who happens to be the Chairman of the Planning Commission is made aware so that he cannot plead ignorance as he did with the appointment of P J Thomas as the Central Vigilance Commissioner

But in reality it is clear that some strong power is backing Dr Sen. This is obvious from the mind-boggling support and patronage that Dr Sen has been provided all along, including that of multiple Nobel Laureates. One can further judge the level of international interest and influence by the fact that a team of Europeon Union delegates had requested and was actually allowed to attend and monitor Dr Sen.’s court hearings following approval by hidden hands in the External Affairs Ministry of the Government of India.

Surely Binayak Sen is not the first or the only accused, who feels that he may be a victim of injustice, nor is his case the biggest or the most significant in an international or even national scale. Thus it would be extremely naïve to assume that he just got very lucky to draw the huge amount of national and international attention.

As expected, a large group of Dr Sen’s supporters belong to the leftist – quasi liberal – pseudo secular and minority focused Indian civil right activists groups who are often seen up in arms in an orchestrated fashion against common interests, but only in selected cases that give them enough fame and mileage. In the past, they were heard protesting the Gujarat riots of 2002 or the Orissa riots of 2008 but they never spend a word on the 58 Hindus burnt alive in the Godhra express carnage or the brutal killing of the 84 year old, Hindu Swami Lakshmanananda and his associates as the cause of those riots. You did not hear them lament for the lives of our security forces but saw them meeting hardliner separatist leaders for peace initiative, whatever that means. Intriguingly, while elsewhere in the world, Islam and Christianity are in religious conflicts, it is interesting that in India they work shoulder to shoulder whenever they find a cause to fight the majority Hindus.

Perhaps they learn this art of selectivity from the international human rights organizations like Amnesty International that has been up against the Sri Lanka government for coming down heavily against LTTE, an organization with open Christian ties but somehow miss the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits.

It is a profitable and thriving business to be a civil activist or to be associated with a non-Government organization (NGO). Besides providing a sense of superiority and the right to criticize indiscriminately, it also provides an opportunity for continuous limelight and media attention, without necessarily shouldering any responsibility. Most NGOs are not people’s organizations as they are projected but often facades of some well-connected and well-off people.

Indian NGOs collectively receive huge financial support from abroad, often in unaccountable deals. In the decade 2000-2009, about 36000 Indian NGOs received foreign funding of Rs.69,000 crores and in 2008-09 only 55% of them reported their accounts. For some NGOs, up to 70% expenditure is done on establishment and travels.

A large number of these Indian NGOs have western connections and often are religiously affiliated to Christianity and / or involved in missionary sponsored activities. Western money funded, Christian NGOs top the list of foreign contribution recipients and it is now an open secret that at least some of that money is spent on various nefarious activities like money laundering, illegal conversion and other blatant anti-Indian use, including funding Maoists and Terrorists.

According to Tehelka, almost all evangelical organizations in India and non-Catholic churches and the Christian NGOs get their funding from their American patrons or from USAID. The largest of such, World Vision, has consultative status with UNESCO and partnerships with UN agencies like UNICEF, WHO, UNHCR and ILO. Thus one can imagine their reach and influence. World Vision’s conversion activities and NGO-Maoist nexus was accused as the root cause of separating the tribal of Orissa that lead to the Khandamal Riot after the brutal killings of Swami Lakshmanananda in 2008 that was carefully camouflaged as Maoist violence. It is used as the harping point of the dubious United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to keep India on a watch list that was gleefully welcomed by John Dayal, secretary of the All India Christian Council.

These self-appointed foreign religious policemen conveniently overlook such Christian sponsored terrorist outfits of North East Indian states like the Nagaland and Tripura or the large-scale conversions and ethnic cleansing sponsored by the Church of Mizoram and neighboring Assam.

To sum up, there seem to be a Christian – western scheme working in full gear in India, where unaccountable foreign money is pouring into India as ‘aid’, that is further funneled though well organized NGOs and activists, who claim to work in tribal and backward areas for development of the “poor and downtrodden”. In effect though, they are involved, overtly or covertly, in various subversive activities. These same areas then happen to give birth to separatists like Maoists and terrorist organizations, which flourish and not unexpectedly happen to promote Christian agendas including illegal conversions and ethnic cleansing. They instigate local agitation with terror and mayhem and then cry foul when retaliated upon or when law and order machinery works against them, taking shelter under such umbrellas as ‘human rights’ or ‘minority protection’ as applicable. They further utilize their civil society friends and other support system including the paid media, to spread their story to national and international audience, in an effort to create pressure over local bodies, judiciary and government alike.

What has all of this to do with Binayak Sen?

Besides being a hotbed for Maoist activities, Chhattisgarh state has also been the site of persistent Christian protests for its anti conversion stand. The CM of Chhattisgarh, Mr. Raman Singh had this to say recently, regarding protests against Binayak Sen’s arrest, “…during the last two years, no one from Chhattisgarh has led a protest in any town, village or city. These protesters came from outside—they would come in aeroplanes, wearing good clothes and perfume. No one recognized that these well-dressed people were coming from France and London. … (Sen) has links with NGOs that work in Chhattisgarh. His close links with missionaries are well known.”

Thus one wonders whether the support of Dr Sen especially from international personnel and organization has anything to do with his association with NGOs, Christians and missionaries.

While Dr Sen has been convicted for his role in pro Maoist activities and while even Church leaders admit that Maoists are sympathetic to the Church and are supporting the priests in carrying out their missionary activities, we are not aware of any direct association between Dr Sen and evangelical or missionary activities though there are ample evidences to suggest that there is a huge Christian backing for him.

Incidentally, Binayak Sen and his wife have an NGO outfit called Rupantar, which reportedly harbored Maoist employees and had bank accounts worth Rs. 4 million without tax returns.

According to his wife, Binayak Sen is associated with Indian Social Institute (ISI) that claims to be engaged in strengthening the people’s movements particularly from among the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, the most Backward Castes, the Minorities, the unorganized and landless laborers and women and incidentally its governing body board members are almost exclusively Christians by name.

Of further interest are news of Christian leaders distressed over conviction of Dr Sen, of the solidarity expressed by The National Council of (Protestant) Churches in India (NCCI) against his conviction, and of the vigor with which his news are published on websites that specialize in Christian prosecution.

In their organized protest including a letter to the PM, representatives of the Delhi Christian community actually compared the ‘situation’ of Binayak Sen to that of Jesus Christ himself and blamed, in a blanket statement, that Human rights defenders are being targeted, and silenced, by all sorts of forces – from sections of the judiciary, administration and police on the one hand to political extremists on the other hand.

One wonders why the Christians leaders are so specifically concerned for Dr Sen?

In this context, it is curious that the first recipient of the South Korean Gwangju Prize for Human Rights award, which Dr Sen got in 2011, was a similar militant and Jesuit activist from Indonesia, who was instrumental in carving out the new Christian country of East Timor with Western aid.

In his defense one may argue that Dr. Binayak Sen, a product of the Vellore Christian Medical College, did actually start working with the poor and underprivileged but somewhere, intentionally or unintentionally, got trapped in the Maoist ideology, like so many others did in the late 60s- early 70s, during the Naxal movements of West Bengal. It is possible that he is just an innocent person who happened to be with wrong people at wrong time and in the process developed some significant acquaintances with Maoists, ending up giving shelters or providing money or acting as an intermediary?

It is even feasible that his popularity is now been used by the central government, aided by civil society activists and NGOs against the state government for political gain. Many of these supporting activists (including noted anti-Hindu personalities like Harsh Mander, John Dayal and Teesta Setalvad) actually also grace the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council which is a superpower that govern the UPA government headed by a meek and often ignorant Prime Minister. As expected, many of these  NAC key members had lambasted the Chhattisgarh trial court ruling calling it a “crime,” a “disgrace” to democracy, a politically motivated “kangaroo trial, with total disregard to the judiciary of the country.

Is there a role of the Catholic high command of the Congress Party or her close and trusted predominantly non-Hindu, associates? In the current state of affairs, where loyal and bogus activists are given free reign to draft rules and supervise over important government institutions though the NAC, one do worry whether indeed we are seeing the making of a banana republic out of India. The recent U turn of Anna Hazare once again confirms that these civil society activist are meant to play special roles that suits the UPA governmant.

The offer and specially the timing of the Planning Commission appointment for Dr Sen make one wonder whether it is part of the sinister design.

Hopefully in due time we will come to know the whole story which our media is too hesitant to investigate or publish now.

Despite our wish to the contrary, we are aware that occasionally our court can be infallible too, as we recently experienced when the honorable Supreme Court chose to reverse its own statement on conversion. We hope that this time, our judiciary stands up and deliver proper justice without being influenced by the cacophony of protests, orchestrated by various vested interest groups of national and international communities.

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Will any Anna Hazare or any anti corruption bill ever address the atrocities committed by the queen of corruption in India? Why does the media who raise a storm in support of Anna Hazare, (perhaps because Mr Hazare is felt to be ‘Gandhian’ and hence ‘harmless’) never bothers to explore these accusations of Dr Swami?  

One wonders if there was no truth in these accusations, why doesn’t Subramaniam Swamy ever get sued or threatened by the Gandhis, despite his lone fight for decades?

Thankfully Baba Ramdev is another person who has started to take a stance on the same issues. That raises the question whether Anna Hazare phenomenon was a deliberate attempt to dilute the ‘actual’ fight. Why is the Indian public, the political parties, the intelligentia or the media and even the judiciary blame only the PM for running a corrupt government, but is ever careful in avoiding questioning the leader of the Congress Party who runs the country by proxy, about her involvement, overtly or covertly in all the series of scams that is rocking the country?    

 

Dr. Subramanian Swamy seeking PM’s sanction to prosecute Ms. Sonia Gandhi‏

April 15,2011
PRESS RELEASE

http://janataparty.org/pressdetail.asp?rowid=60

Dr.Subramanian Swamy, Janata Party President and former Union Cabinet Minister for Law &Justice, today submitted a Petition of 206 pages, seeking from the Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh the required Sanction to prosecute Ms. Sonia Gandhi under Sections 11 & 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Sanction is required under Section 19 of the Act because she is Chairperson of the National Advisory Council with Cabinet rank.

In his Petition to the PM, Dr.Swamy has made out a prima facie case on documentary circumstantial evidence that Ms.Gandhi abetted Italian businessman and close family friend Ottavio Quattrocchi to obtain an illegal commission in the Bofors Gun Purchase deal, and then influenced the government of Prime Minister Narasimha Rao to enable Mr. Quattrocchi to escape from the country in July 1993.

Thereafter she directed the Union Law Minister in 2005 to enable Mr. Quattrocchi to get his London accounts de-frozen and decamp scot free with over $ 200 million [about Rs 1000 crores].

Dr.Swamy has also made out a prima facie case that Mr. Gandhi has illegally held in Swiss bank accounts illegal monies of about Rs. 10,000 crores received as a legatee in 1991 following Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. He also produced an admission on record of the spokesperson of the Russian government that KGB had provided funds to Ms. Gandhi and her family, as also evidence that she had received commissions on Indo-Soviet trade, which were illegal under Indian law.

In his Petition, Dr.Swamy has also catalogued a list of offences prima facie committed by Ms.Sonia Gandhi since 1974 which shows that she is an habitual offender who deserves to be prosecuted and punished.
For Janata Party
(Pran Nath Mago)
PA to Dr.Swamy

 

 
15, April 2011

Dr.Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister as Sanctioning Authority
u/s 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (1988) [PCA]
South Block, New Delhi.

Re: Sanction to prosecute Ms.Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson (in Cabinet Rank), NAC, under Prevention of Corruption Act (1988).

Dear Sir:

1. Ms.Sonia Gandhi MP, wife of the deceased Rajiv Gandhi, was first appointed as Chairperson National Advisory Council [NAC] in May 2004. She resigned in 2006 but was re-appointed by an Order of the Cabinet Secretariat dated March 29, 2010, read with Order dated October 8, 2010 [Annexure 1].

2. As per Order of May 31, 2004 [Annexure 2] the Prime Minister’s Office will provide Central Government funds to meet the expenditure of the NAC, and service the NAC for its secretarial needs. Hence she is a public servant as defined in Section 2 ( c ) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (1988).

3. You, in your capacity as deemed appointing authority are therefore the Designated Authority under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act for granting Sanction to prosecute the said Ms. Sonia Gandhi. As you know, there are no laches or statute of limitations for prosecuting offences of corruption.

4. Your Sanction is required by me for prosecuting Ms. Sonia Gandhi on a private complaint proposed to be filed by me in the criminal court under Prevention of Corruption Act (1988), based on the materials available to me (and enclosed with this letter/application) with reference to two issues:

FIRST ISSUE:

5. Ms.Sonia Gandhi holds office which enables her to give direction to Government departments and Ministries and also call for confidential reports from CBI, and according to the then Union Law Minister, she can even call for files [Annexure 3]. She has been as Chairperson of NAC giving directions to several ministries and departments.

6. It is charged that she obtained for, and colluded with family friend, Mr. Ottavio Quattrocchi—an Interpol Red-Corner Noticee & a proclaimed offender under Indian criminal law, to obtain for him the pecuniary advantage from defreezing of his CBI-frozen account, thus committing offence u/s 13 (1)(d) of the PCA, and also conspired with Quattrocchi to enable him to escape prosecution in Bofors Gun Purchase scam.

7. Bofors scam that occurred in 1986 represents corruption in very high places and the key figure in the scam is Mr. Ottavio Quattrocchi, the Italian family friend and fixer. The then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi was manipulated by Ms.Sonia Gandhi, his Italian born wife, to abet the crime in Bofors gun purchase committed by Quattrocchi against the nation.
8. Ms.Sonia Gandhi stationed Mr.Walter Vinci, her brother-in-law, in Sweden to influence her husband and then Prime Minister, when on a visit to Sweden to finalize the Bofors Deal. Also present in the same hotel was the Italian fixer, small arms supplier, and Snam Progetti agent, Mr. Ottavio Quattrocchi, [who was hailed as the catalyst in the deal by the CBI in their Letters Rogatory documents], and who had in return for a hefty commission prevailed on the Prime Minister to sign the deal before March 31, 1986.

9. Thereafter when the arm of the law began reaching near him, he escaped from India in 1993, then from Malaysia in 2002 via a rigged court judgment obtained by collusion with as yet unnamed parties and from Argentina— by the CBI fudging the records – all achieved under the influence exerted by Ms. Sonia Gandhi under three different and consenting Prime Ministers.

10. This is further confirmed in the interview conducted by Ranjit Bhushan of Outlook magazine [Annexure 4 ] in 1998 with Mr.Sten Lindstorm, the Chief of the Investigation Division of Swedish National Bureau of Investigation and Special Prosecutor of the Swedish Government into the Bofors payoffs. The Swedish National Audit Bureau which he assisted concluded after an independent probe that bribes had indeed been paid in the Bofors deal.

11. Lindstorm states in the interview, which has not been contradicted by anyone including Ms. Sonia Gandhi, that: “The Bofors Papers all point to the [Sonia] Gandhi family” and further that Ms.Sonia Gandhi should “explain how Quattrocchi-owned companies got such fat sums as payoffs from the Bofors deal.”

12. This report is corroborated by another interview given by Lindstorm to Chitra Subramanian [Indian Express, March 22, 1998] wherein he stated; “All information we had at that time pointed to the Gandhi link—Sonia Gandhi should place her cards on the table. The bribes have been traced to her friend and this is not something out of the blue. This is no coincidence.”

13. Headlines Today is in possession of the written statement of then Intelligence Bureau officer Naresh Chandra Gosain made before CBI Inspector Ghanshyam Rai on March 29 1997. Between 1984 and 1987, Gosain was posted in the Special Protection Group [SPG] of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He was part of the escort team. Between 1987 and 1989, Gosain served as the Personal Security Officer or the PSO of Sonia Gandhi.

14. During the tenure of Prime Minister Deve Gowda in 1997, Gosain deposed before the CBI. This deposition has so far never been made public. Headlines Today dug out this deposition, in which Gosain talks at length about the close family ties between the Gandhis and the Quattrocchis.

15. In his testimony Gosain says, “Mr.Ottavio Quattrocchi and his wife Ms Maria Quattrocchi were very close to Mr Rajiv Gandhi and Mrs Sonia Gandhi. When Shri Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister, Mr. Quattrocchi and his family members used to visit PM house and the family members of Shri Rajiv Gandhi also used to visit the house of Mr.Quattrocchi.”

16. He adds: “In the initial period of Prime Ministership of Shri Rajiv Gandhi, the children of Shri Rajiv Gandhi used to stay at Mr.Quattrocchi’s house during the foreign visits/domestic visits of the Prime Minister. We used to perform our shift duties at the residence of Mr.Quattrocchi on such occasions. Sometimes, Mrs Sonia Gandhi has also stayed in the house of Mr.Quattrocchi and at that time we used to perform our duties there.”

Gosain goes on to add that Mr.Quattrocchi and his wife Maria enjoyed free access to the Prime Minister’s house. “At No. 5 & 7 Race Course Road, private cars were not allowed to enter inside the bungalow. Only the ferry cars of SPG, after severe security checks, used to carry such visitors from reception to porch and back. Mr. Quattrocchi and Mrs Maria Quattrocchi were very close to Shri Rajiv Gandhi’s family and they got free access to the PM’s House.”

He further added: “All visitors to No 5 & 7 Race Course Road were issued passes at the reception near the alighting point. Every time, a card was kept ready for Mr. Quattrocchi and his family members as and when they visited the PM’s house. Everybody in SPG posted at PM house knew Mr Quattrocchi and his family members. Hence, there was no question of identifying them.”

17. Ottavio Quattrocchi’s proximity to the Gandhis is well known. What is also known is this proximity continued even after Quattrocchi began to be linked to the Bofors scandal. What documents show is that despite the cloud of suspicion surrounding Quattrocchi’s involvment in the Bofors paybacks, he continued to have unfettered access to 10 Janpath, the residence officially assigned to Ms.Sonia Gandhi, which in itself makes her a public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

18. It is important to recollect that by January 25, 1990, a team of CBI officials was already in Switzerland with a list of suspected recipients of the Bofors payback. According to a Frontline magazine story of the time, Ottavio Quattrocchi was the first name on that list. Between 1988 and 1990, the media too carried many stories about the involvement of Quattrocchi as a middleman in the Bofors deal.

19. It is clear from records that Mr.Quattrocchi was the direct beneficiary of bribe payments in the Bofors scam. It is now confirmed by the ITAT Report of the Hon’ble Tolani & Sharma Bench [Annexure 5 ].

The testimony of Mr. Sasi Dharan is crucial in further unravelling the proximity of Quattrocchi to Ms. Sonia Gandhi.. Sasi Dharan worked as a driver in Snam Progetti. Snam Progetti was an Italian public sector giant that was represented in India by Ottavio Quattrocchi. Sasi was Quattrocchi’s personal driver. He drove Mercedes No.DIA 6253. In his testimony before the CBI, Sasi details the frequent meetings between the Gandhis with the Quattrocchis.

20. In his testimony Sasi says: “Shri Quattrocchi and Mrs Maria Quattrocchi were very close to Shri Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and his family. I do not know what type of relation they had but Quattrocchi and his wife Maria used to frequently visit the house of Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. I knew it since 1985 when I joined service. At that time they used to visit the house of Rajiv Gandhi twice or thrice in a day. Whenever Sonia Gandhi’s mother or father visited India, I used to drive them to the house of Quattrocchi. They used to remain there for the whole day and Mrs Maria Quattrocchi would take them for shopping. They used to come to India four or five times in the year.”

21. What is clinching is the car log maintained by driver Sasi Dharan. In this log, Sasi details the exact dates when Ottavio Quattrocchi came to meet Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi at 5 and 7 Race Course Road or 10 Janpath. These logs are for the period 1989 to 1993. In this log book, Sasi Dharan has mentioned 41 occasions when Quattrocchi came to meet the Gandhis.

22. It is important to note that the meetings between Ottavio Quattrochi and Sonia Gandhi continued even after the death of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 even as Ms.Sonia Gandhi remained as a public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

23. According to Sasi Dharan, Quattrocchi came to 10 Janpath 21 times after May 1991. Considering the long financial dealings of Mr.Quattrocchi since 1976 with LTTE (the assassins of Rajiv Gandhi), this fact is a subject of a future application for sanction as well.

24. Sasi concludes by saying: “Shri Quattrocchi left India on the night of July 29, 1993 and on this day also I had driven him to the airport. At that time he did not have any luggage except one briefcase and he told me he was going for an urgent meeting. Usually, whenever Mr. Quattrocchi wanted the car, he would tell me in advance, but the day he left, he did not tell me (in advance)”. Obviously he had notice of his impending arrest by CBI in advance.

25. As a consequence of the misuse of her office and position, Ms. Sonia Gandhi helped Ottavio Quattrocchi not only escape from the country, and in 2005 even to withdraw $ 29 million from his de-frozen accounts and thus let off scot free.

26. Hence, it is prima facie obvious that Ms.Sonia Gandhi had misused her office [she was Life President in the Government funded Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts Trust(IGNCA Trust) during 1991-2002] and thus a public servant with considerable influence in government to enable Mr. Quattrocchi to escape from India in 1993 and later in 2005 to benefit Mr.Quattrocchi to illegally gain monetarily at the expense of the Consolidated Fund of India, by defreezing his London accounts.

SECOND ISSUE:,

27. This complaint against Sonia Gandhi also includes the corrupt monies held under her control in the tax haven of Switzerland as a legatee of the corrupt money which was banked in the name of her late husband or deposited by her of funds obtained from the erstwhile KGB, the Soviet Union’s Intelligence Agency, or by sale of illegally exported antiques in the country. I retain the right to submit details of other illegal accounts in other havens such as Macao at a later stage in another application to you or before the court.

28. It is well-reported that Sonia Gandhi is the beneficiary of Rajiv Gandhi’s estate which includes the corrupt monies continued even now to be held in a tax havens. Why this money is held abroad (even if held as a trust to benefit family members) instead of its being held in India within the Indian financial system to benefit the nation is a question which Ms.Sonia Gandhi must answer.

29. Violations of FEMA have occurred as also under Prevention of Money Laundering Act. In case any transaction on this account which is not reported in the Income Tax Returns, and FCRA is also a violation. There may also be an issue of obtaining RBI prior permission for holding such large sums abroad if it is claimed to be a legitimate account.

30. It is clear that this wealth was not reported in Election Affidavits of Sonia Gandhi & Rahul Gandhi as a beneficiary of the monies so held [Annexure 6]. The total wealth of both Gandhis, as per their election returns, is just Rs 363 lakh, Sonia owns no car. “

31. When Schweizer Illustrierte a prestigious German language Swiss magazine alleged that Rajiv Gandhi held an illegal account in Swiss banks of about US $ 2 billion, neither she nor her son, protested, or sued the magazine, then or later[Annexure 7].

32. When major papers, The Hindu and The Times of India included, had carried in the year 1992 the official confirmation of KGB payments to the Rajiv Gandhi family, adding that the Russian government owned the payments in the disclosures, neither of the two Gandhis challenged or sued them [Annexure 8].

33. Nor did they sue Dr. Yevgenia Albats, a member of the official Commission on KGB Operations set up by President Yeltsin, when she wrote about KGB payments to Rajiv Gandhi and family in her book: The State within State [Annexure 9]

34. More than $ 2 billion in 1991 was being held by Ms. Sonia Gandhi as a legatee, or otherwise obtained by receiving stolen movable and immovable properties, monies and securities, kept illegally in tax haven banks of Switzerland and elsewhere, and which is disproportionate to her known sources of income. She thus has also committed offence u/s 13(1)(e) of PCA. It also attracts the IPC Sections for receiving stolen property.

35. The recent deposition of Hasan Ali, alleged to have siphoned money of the nation to Switzerland secret accounts admits to his close association not only with her but with Mr.Ahmed Patel MP and political adviser to Ms.Sonia Gandhi [Annexure 10 ].

36. Ms. Sonia Gandhi is also obviously culpable under Indian criminal law such as FCRA for the pay offs in the Iraqi Oil-for-Food scam of 2002. The United Nations had set up an independent inquiry committee under Dr. F. Volcker which found that the “Congress Party” headed by Ms. Sonia Gandhi as a beneficiary of a free oil quota from the now deposed and deceased dictator Saddam Hussein, which the beneficiary sold at market price through Marc Rich, the notorious swindler who had been convicted by a US Court for 350 years and several million dollars as fine. He was pardoned by US President Clinton in 2000 on Israeli Prime Minister’s intervention. He lives in Switzerland.

37. No one in Congress Party but Ms. Sonia Gandhi as party President could have been this beneficiary. The other beneficiary listed in Volcker’s Report was by name: Natwar Singh, who got much less [Annexure 11].

38. I reserve the right to further petition you to enlarge the scope of this sanction at a future date to include other violations and offences committed by Ms.Sonia Gandhi under Prevention of Corruption Act (1988), for which I will file with you a separate application if necessary..

39. But, in this application alone there is substantive prima facie evidence for an appropriate court to take cognizance of the offence committed by Ms.Sonia Gandhi under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and thus I seek your sanction to initiate the criminal law to prosecute her under the Act

40. Ms. Sonia Gandhi is habitually committing acts of corruption since 1972. On November 19, 1974, I brought it to the attention of the Rajya Sabha that Ms. Sonia Gandhi, then an Italian citizen had functioned as a benami insurance agent of public sector insurance companies, and giving her address as 1, Safdarjung Road, New Delhi which was then the official residence of the Prime Minister of India. She thus committed an offence under FERA. The then Prime Minister Mrs.Indira Gandhi subsequently informed the Rajya Sabha that following my disclosure, Ms. Sonia Gandhi had resigned from this agency earning commissions.

41. Between January 25, 1973 and January 21, 1975 she held a post of Managing Director of Maruti Technical Services on a salary despite it being an offence under FERA. But then she had become Managing Director of Maruti Heavy Vehicles Pvt Ltd with an even bigger remuneration. For neither post she had the necessary qualifications having never passed even High School. The Justice A.C. Gupta Commission appointed in 1977 by the Janata Party Government found her guilty of multiple offences under FERA and IPC.

42. In 1980 and January 1983 Ms. Sonia Gandhi then still an Italian citizen enrolled herself as a voter in the New Delhi constituency despite having been struck off the list in 1982 upon the ERO receiving a complaint from a citizen. She thus committed an offence under Section 31 of the Representation of the People’s Act read with Form 4 of the Registration of Electors Rules(1960).

43. Ms.Sonia Gandhi’s Indian citizenship acquired in record speed in April 1983 is vitiated by her incomplete answers to mandatory questions in the citizenship forms. She did not submit documents from the Italian government of relinquishing her Italian citizenship required for Indian citizenship, stating in the Form that it was ‘not applicable [Annexure 12].

Italian Embassy in New Delhi simply affirmed what she told them and hence that cannot be taken as a valid document of relinquishment for the purposes of citizenship. She also retrieved her Italian passport in 1992 after citizenship laws in Italy were amended which under Section 10 of the Citizenship Act (1955) means cancellation of her Indian citizenship.

44. All these facts stated above were put together and published in USA in a full page advertisement in the New York Times in 2008 by NRIs N. Kataria and others. The Congress Party unit in USA thereafter engaged the most expensive law firm and filed a $200 million defamation suit. However Ms.Sonia Gandhi refused to appear in the witness box and be cross examination. Therefore, Justice Emily Goodman of the New York State Supreme Court dismissed the suit since defamation suits in law have to be filed by the person claiming to be defamed, and therefore cannot be assigned to others [Annexure 13]. Ms. Sonia Gandhi had a case to rebut these facts, then why she failed to turn up in court?

(SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY)

Gaddar Hatao, Desh Bachao!

Dynasty Hatao, Desh Bachao!

…….. But the problem could well be that there are lot of others who have picked up their shares, even if it was crumbs compared to the Gandhi family; if not in cash, then may be, in kind.

The country needs a mutiny again.

 

Zero tolerance, secret billions 

By S Gurumurthy 
02 Jan 2011

What was Rajiv Gandhi’s fatal error in politics? It does not need a seer to say that it was his claim to honesty — branding himself as ‘Mr Clean’ — that proved fatal to him. Indira Gandhi was his contrast. Asked about corruption in her government, she said nonchalantly, ‘it was a global phenomenon’. This was in 1983. An honest Delhi High Court judge even lamented how could corruption be controlled when someone holding such a high position had almost rationalised it. The result, no one could ever charge Indira Gandhi with corruption, because she never claimed to be clean. But, ambitious to look ideal, Rajiv proclaimed honesty and so provoked scrutiny; in contrast, Indira, opting to be practical, immunised herself against scrutiny. Eventually, Rajiv’s claim to honesty became the very cross on which he was crucified in the 1989 elections when the Bofors gun shot the Congress out of power. The lesson to the political class was: don’t claim to be honest, if you really are not so. The hard lesson seems forgotten now by the Gandhi family itself. Sonia Gandhi, instead of following Indira’s safe path, is wrongly caught on Rajiv’s risky steps. The consequences seem to be ominous. Will the politics of 1987 to 1989 repeat?

Following Rajiv and forgetting Indira, Sonia Gandhi proclaimed ‘zero tolerance’ to corruption at a party rally in Allahabad in November 2010. She repeated it at the Congress plenary in Delhi weeks later. Asking the cadre to take the corrupt head on, she said that her party was ‘prompt’ in acting against the corrupt; ‘never spared the corrupt’ because corruption impedes development’. This was almost how Rajiv Gandhi spoke in the Congress centenary in Mumbai 25 years ago. Two crucial differences marked Rajiv away from Sonia. First, when Rajiv claimed to be ‘Mr Clean’, he had no scams to defend against. But, Sonia claims to be honest amidst huge and continuing scams — CWG, Adarsh, 2G Spectrum allocation scam…. Next, Rajiv had a clean slate to begin with, with no known skeletons in his cupboard till the Bofors scam smashed his ‘Mr Clean’ image. In contrast, Sonia’s slate is full of credible exposures of bribes and pay-offs in billions of dollars secreted in Swiss bank accounts, not counting Quattrocchi’s millions from Bofors. To make it worse, for almost two decades now, she has not dared to deny the exposures or sue the famous Swiss magazine or the Russian investigative journalist who had put out evidence of bribe against the Sonia family. Seen against this background, Sonia’s vow to act against the corrupt seems like a suspect hooting ‘catch the thief’ and scooting away. This is the main story that unfolds here.

$2.2 billions to 11 billions!
A stunning exposure on Sonia Gandhi’s secret billions in Swiss banks came, surprisingly, from Switzerland itself, where the world’s corrupt stash away their booty. In its issue of November 19, 1991, Schweizer Illustrierte, the most popular magazine of Switzerland, did an exposé of over a dozen politicians of the third world, including Rajiv Gandhi, who had stashed away their bribe monies in Swiss banks. Schweizer Illustrierte, not a rag, sells some 2,15,000 copies and has a readership of 9,17,000 — almost a sixth of Swiss adult population. Citing the newly opened KGB records, the magazine reported ‘that Sonia Gandhi the widow of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was controlling secret account with 2.5 billion Swiss Francs (equal to $2.2 billion) in her minor son’s name’. The $2.2 billion account must have existed from before June 1988 when Rahul Gandhi attained majority. The loot in today’s rupee value equals almost Rs 10,000 crore. Swiss banks invest and multiply the clients’ monies, not keep them buried. Had it been invested in safe long-term securities, the $.2.2 billion bribe would have multiplied to $9.41 billion (Rs 42,345 crore) by 2009. If it had been put in US stocks, it would have swelled to $12.97 billion (Rs 58,365 crore). If, as most likely, it were invested in long-term bonds and stocks as 50:50, it would have grown to $11.19 billion (Rs 50,355 crore). Before the global financial meltdown in 2008, the $2.2 billion bribes in stocks would have peaked at $18.66 billion (Rs 83,900 crore). By any calculation the present size of the $2.2 billion secret funds of the family in Swiss banks seems huge — anywhere between Rs 43,000 plus to some Rs 84,000 crore!

KGB papers
The second exposé, emanating from the archives of the Russian spy outfit KGB, is far more serious. It says that the Gandhi family has accepted political pay-offs from the KGB — a clear case of treason besides bribe. In her book The State Within a State: The KGB and its Hold on Russia-Past, Present, and Future, Yevgenia Albats, an acclaimed investigative journalist, says: “A letter signed by Victor Chebrikov, who replaced Andropov as the KGB head in 1982 noted: ‘the USSR KGB maintains contact with the son of the Premier Minister Rajiv Gandhi (of India). R Gandhi expresses deep gratitude for the benefits accruing to the Prime Minister’s family from the commercial dealings of the firm he controls in co-operation with the Soviet foreign trade organisations. R Gandhi reports confidentially that a substantial portion of the funds obtained through this channel are used to support the party of R Gandhi’.” (p.223). Albats has also disclosed that, in December 2005, KGB chief Victor Chebrikov had asked for authorisation from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, “to make payments in US dollars to the family members of Rajiv Gandhi, namely Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Ms Paola Maino, mother of Sonia Gandhi.” And even before Albats’ book came out the Russian media had leaked out the details of the pay-offs. Based on the leaks, on July 4, 1992, The Hindu had reported: “the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service admits the possibility that the KGB could have been involved in arranging profitable Soviet contract for the company controlled by Rajiv Gandhi family”.

Indian media
Rajiv Gandhi’s sad demise delayed the Swiss and Russian exposé on Sonia being picked up here. But Indian media’s interest in it actually coincided with Sonia Gandhi assuming leadership of the Congress. A G Noorani, a well-known columnist, had reported on both Schweizer Illustrierte and Albats’ exposés in Statesman (December 31, 1988). Subramanian Swamy had put out the photocopies of the pages of Schweizer Illustrierte and Albats’ book in his website along with the mail of the Swiss magazine dated February 23, 2002 confirming that in its article of November 1991 it had named Rajiv Gandhi with a total of Swiss Franc 2.5 billion ($2.2 billion) in secret account; it had also offered to supply a original copy of the magazine to Swamy. (See: http://www.janataparty.org/annexures/ann10p43.html) These facts were again recalled in my article in The New Indian Express (April 29, 2009) written in response to Sonia Gandhi speech at Mangalore (April 27, 2009) declaring that, “the Congress was taking steps to address the issue of untaxed Indian money in Swiss banks”. The article had questioned her about her family’s corrupt wealth in Swiss banks in the context of her vow to bring back the monies stashed away abroad. Rajinder Puri, a reputed journalist, has also earlier written on the KGB disclosures in his column on August 15, 2006. Recently, in India Today (December 27, 2010) the redoubtable Ram Jethmalani has referred to the Swiss exposé, asking where is that money now? So the Indian media too has repeatedly published the details of the secret billions of the Gandhi family investigated by the Swiss and Russian journalists. Amal Datta (CPI(M)) had raised the $2.2 billion issue in Parliament on December 7, 1991, but Speaker Shivraj Patil expunged the Gandhi name from the proceedings!

Self-incriminating
But, what has been the response of Sonia or Rahul, major after June 1988, to the investigation by Schweizer Illustrierte and Albats and to the Indian media’s repeated references to their investigation? It can be summed up in one word: Silence. Thus, apart from the exposés, the deafening silence of the Gandhis itself constitutes the most damaging and self-incriminating evidence of the family’s guilt. When Schweizer Illustrierte alleged that Sonia had held Rajiv Gandhi’s bribes in Rahul’s name in Swiss banks, neither she nor the son, protested, or sued the magazine, then or later; nor did they sue A G Noorani or Statesman when they repeated it in 1998, or later; nor would they sue Subramanian Swamy when he put it on his website in 2002; neither did they sue me, or the Express when the article was carried in April 2009. When major papers, The Hindu and The Times of India included, had carried the expose on KGB payments in the year 1992 itself adding that the Russian government was embarrassed by the disclosures, neither of the Gandhis challenged or sued them; nor did they sue Yevgenia Albats when she wrote about KGB payments to Rajiv Gandhi in 1994. Neither did they act against  Swamy when he put Albats’ book pages on his website or when Rajinder Puri, a well-known journalist, wrote about it in his column on August 15, 2006. However, a feeble but proxy suit was filed by Sonia loyalists to defend her reputation when Albats’ exposé was made part of the full-page advertisement in The New York Times in 2007 issued by some NRIs to ‘unmask’ Sonia to the US audience, as they claimed. The suit was promptly dismissed by a US court because Sonia herself did not dare file the suit. Shockingly even that suit did not challenge the $2.2 billion Swiss account at all!

Imagine that the report in Schweizer Illustrierte or in Albats book was false and Sonia Gandhi did not have those billions in secret accounts in Rahul Gandhi’s name or the family was not paid for its service to the KGB as alleged. How would they, as honest and outraged people, have reacted? Like how Morarji Desai, then retired and old at 87, responded in anger when, Seymour Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, had mentioned in his book that Morarji Desai was a ‘paid’ CIA mole in the Indian Cabinet. Morarji Desai forthwith filed a libel suit. Commenting in The American Spectator, Rael Jean Isaac wrote in 2004, five years after Morarji Desai had passed away, that Hersh habitually indulged in character assassination; and in his attempt to do down Henry Kissinger, Morarji Desai became the victim. Isaac added that Desai, 87, calling it a “sheer mad story”, reacted in outrage with a libel suit seeking $50 million in damages. When the suit came up, as Desai, 93, was too ill to travel to US, Kissinger testified on Desai’s behalf, flatly contradicted Hersh’s charge and stated that Desai had no connection to the CIA. That is how even retired and old persons, honest and so offended and outraged, would act. But see the self-incriminating contrast, the complete absence of such outrage, in Sonia, who is reigning as the chairperson of the UPA now, neither retired or tired like the nonagenarian Morarji Desai, being just 41 when the story broke out in Schweizer Illustrierte. Imagine, not Sonia or Rahul, but Advani or Modi had figured in the exposés of Schweizer Illustrierte or Albats. What would the media not have done to nail them? What would the government of Sonia not have done to fix them?

Rs 20.80 lakh-crore loot
The billions of the Gandhi family being both bribes and monies stashed away in Swiss banks, they are inextricably linked to the larger issue of bringing back the huge national wealth stashed abroad. All world nations, except India, are mad after their black wealth secreted in Swiss and like banks. But India has shown little enthusiasm to track the illicit funds of Indians in Swiss and other banks. Why such reticence?

When during the run-up to the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP leader L K Advani promised to bringing back, if voted to power, Indian monies estimated between $500 billion and $1.4 trillion stashed abroad, the Congress first denied that there was such Indian money outside. But when the issue began gathering momentum, Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi had to do damage control and promise that the Congress too would bring back the national wealth secreted abroad. Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a non-profit institution working against global black funds, has recently estimated that the Indian wealth secreted away is about $462 billion, approximately equal to Rs 20.80 lakh-crore. The GFI says that more than two-thirds of it was looted away under the liberalisation regime. This is what the GFI says about the character of the loot: “From 1948 through 2008, India lost a total of $213 billion in illicit financial flows (or illegal capital flight)” through “tax evasion, corruption, bribery and kickbacks, and criminal activities”. Does one need a seer to say under what head would the $2.2 billion in Sonia family’s secret account (which would have grown to $9 to $13 billion by now) fall? But accretions, if any, from the loot in 2G and CWG where the numbers are even bigger are not still accounted. Now comes the more critical, yet practical issue. When the Sonia Gandhi family is among the suspects who have secreted away monies abroad, how will it affect the efforts to bring back the wealth stashed away by others?

Looters safe
Just a couple of examples will demonstrate how the government is unwilling to go after Indian money secreted abroad.
As early as February 2008 the German authorities had collected information about illegal money kept by citizens of different countries in Lichtenstein bank. The German finance minister offered to provide the names of the account holders to any government interested in the names of its citizens. There were media reports that some 250 Indian names were found in the Lichtenstein Bank list. Yet, despite the open offer from Germany to provide the details, the UPA-II government has never showed interest in the Indian accounts in Lichtenstein Bank. The Times of India reported that “the ministry of finance and PMO have, however, not shown much interest in finding out about those who have their lockers on the secret banks of Liechtenstein which prides itself in its banking system”. But under mounting pressure the Indian government asked for details not under the open offer but strategically under India’s tax treaty with Germany. What is the difference? Under the tax treaty the information received would have to be kept confidential; but, if it were received openly, it can be disclosed to the public. Is any further evidence needed to prove that the government is keen to see that the names of Indians who had secreted monies abroad are not disclosed?

The second is the sensational case of Hasan Ali, the alleged horse-breeder of Pune, who was found to have operated Swiss accounts involving over Rs 1.5 lakh-crore. The income tax department has levied a tax of Rs 71,848 crore on him for concealing Indian income secreted in Swiss accounts. This case is being buried now. The request sent to the Swiss government was deliberately made faulty to ensure that the Swiss would not provide details. Some big names in the ruling circles are reportedly linked to Hasan Ali. That explains why the government would not deepen the probe. It is Hasan Alis and the like who transport through hawala the bribes of the corrupt from India. If Hasan Ali is exposed, the corrupt will stand naked. This is how the hawala trader and the corrupt in India are mixed-up.

Is it too much to conclude that thanks to Sonia family’s suspected billions in Swiss accounts the system cannot freely probe the $462 billion looted from India at all?

Tail-pieces: The total wealth of both Gandhis, as per their election returns, is just Rs 363 lakh, Sonia owning no car. Sonia lamented on November 19, 2010, that graft and greed are on the rise in India!! Rahul said on December 19, 2010, that severe punishment should be given to the corrupt!!! Amen.

Interesting to see criticism of the members of the ‘Family’. Rather mild though.  ‘Disasters as leaders’ and ‘opportunist’ are obviously gentle descriptions. Perhaps the writer, out of decency,  fails to use the words that they rightly deserve. 

But then why should we blame them? The Congress party and its leaders have nothing to bank upon, other than their ‘first family’.  The media is on the payroll to promote the family and shove all its crimes under the carpets. But finally the onus should be on the citizens, whose preference of servitude, compels them to choose their unworthy ‘master’ by electing the Congress party, election after election, since Independence.

What better can we possibly deserve?

 

Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are both leaders missing in action

 

DNA / R Jagannathan / Sunday, August 8, 2010 2:26 IST

If UPA-1 lived a charmed life under Left hectoring, UPA-2 is practically defunct, thanks to an absolute lack of leadership from the Big Three: Manmohan Singh, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. The silence of the lamb — Manmohan Singh, who becomes a tiger only when LK Advani gets his goat — is understandable. He is not expected to lead. His main job is to keep the PM’s gaddi warm for the heir apparent (or is it apparent heir?). He can tinker here and there, but nothing more. If anything works, the family can claim credit for it. If it doesn’t, he can carry the can for it.

Both Sonia and Rahul have been disasters as leaders. But outside of blogosphere, you won’t hear any of this. Our media handles the Gandhis with kid gloves, assuming — wrongly — that they are born to rule.

As always, it took an outsider to exclaim that the would-be emperor had no clothes. In a stinging analysis of Rahul Gandhi’s coming-of-age 40th birthday in June, The Economist made caustic comments in a piece headlined ‘The Mysterious Mr Gandhi’. “Forty, after all, is not really that young. By then a man might be expected to have made his mark in the world, rather than be celebrating his coming-of-age. By the time they were Rahul’s age, Mozart and Alexander the Great had both been dead for several years. At 33, Jesus Christ had preached, healed, died and risen. The comparison is not wholly unfair, since Rahul’s disciples talk of him as India’s saviour….”

Given its limited knowledge of Indian history, The Economist cannot be faulted for thinking only of Jesus and not Sankara or Mahavira or Buddha. While Sankara changed the course of Hinduism before he passed at age 32, the Buddha and Mahavira gave up their cushy lives and kingdoms to search for higher truths. This search gave birth to two great religions — Jainism and Buddhism. Rahul is busy doing the opposite: trying to figure out how his meanderings across India can win him a kingdom in Delhi.

Forget religious leaders. At 24, Bhagat Singh had energised an entire nation by courting martyrdom for his country. In contrast, Rahul is relying on a fawning media and the mask of humility to build his reputation.

India is bleeding from a 1,000 unattended cuts, thanks not to the LeT or Maoists, but to the pusillanimity of its leaders who don’t want to risk anything in order to remain in power. Manmohan Singh can do many things, but won’t, because of a misplaced sense of loyalty to the dynasty. Sonia, who has all the power and authority she needs in the Congress party and outside, has shown no inclination to take the decisions the country needs — whether it is economic reforms or political initiatives to deal with Kashmir, Maoist violence, or anything. Rahul is allegedly trying to build the party, but I am yet to hear about one courageous stand he has taken against any real problem facing the nation.

Of course, some party faithfuls will say that Sonia and Rahul are behind the NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) initiative. This is tosh. Is there any politician in the world who has shown reluctance to throw taxpayers’ money to buy votes?

Pouring money into petroleum, fertiliser and social sector subsidies needs no political courage. Dealing with the crisis in Kashmir does. It needs leadership of a high order — something the current crop of Gandhis have completely lost sight of.

It is a tragedy to see a Gandhi scion hiding behind mamma, shying away from the real challenges of life. Nehru battled sectarianism and put his political prestige on the line to fight Hindu traditionalists in the Congress party and outside. Indira Gandhi took on all the party bosses to establish her power and take the country forward. She took the fateful — unfortunately, wrong — decision to storm the Akal Takht and paid with her life. But she did not shrink from taking a decision. Rajiv Gandhi learnt from her mistakes and handled the next Golden Temple crisis intelligently. He also tried to bring peace to Sri Lanka by sending the IPKF to deal with the murderous LTTE. He too paid for it with his life.

The mark of a good leader is not that he or she always takes the right call, but that they are never afraid to take a decision in the national interest. In contrast, Sonia and Rahul have made no wrong move ever. They are courting power by abandoning the idea of leading. They are opportunists. This country needs leaders, not opportunists.

As Hindus slumber, Christians, under the blessing of Sonia Congress, tightens there political grip to enable them to carry out their Pope’s open call of evangelization of Indian souls ….”The peoples of Asia need Jesus Christ and his gospel. Asia is thirsting for the living water that Jesus alone can give,” the pope declared in a Vatican document released during a ceremony in New Delhi  …. “You, the bishops, are being asked to make ever greater efforts to spread the gospel of salvation throughout the length and breadth of the human geography of Asia,” the pontiff told almost 100 bishops, 60 of them from outside India…..

 

Christian pick on Congress poll list

 

CITHARA PAUL

New Delhi, Sept. 27: For the first time, a major Christian body has asked a political party to give poll nominations to candidates from the community, and the party has obliged.

The All India Christian Council, a conglomerate of all Christian denominations, wrote to Sonia Gandhi a few weeks ago requesting tickets for Christians in the Maharashtra Assembly elections.

The Congress has accepted two of the council’s nine nominees, both political lightweights. Janet D’Souza has been fielded from Ghatkopar — where she is up against a formidable opponent, the late Pramod Mahajan’s daughter Poonam — and an advocate, Gonsalves, from Vasai. Maharashtra has 18 lakh Christians, of whom 8 lakh live in Mumbai.

“We had written to Sonia Gandhi early this month asking for deserving representation for Christians in the party’s candidate list, and we are extremely happy,” said Abraham Mathai, general secretary of the council, whose initials, AICC, are coincidentally the same as those of the All India Congress Committee.

The Christian community has played crucial political roles in Kerala, Goa and some northeastern states, but it had never before engaged in poll politics so openly.

Mathai said the council wrote the letter because it was “aware of the importance of integrating with the mainstream”.

Asked why the council wrote only to the Congress, he said Christians were traditional supporters of the party. “Christians are considered fixed deposits for the Congress and not vote banks. Vote banks can shift their loyalty, but FDs never do that.”

Council secretary John Dayal said Christians had always been under-represented even in the secular parties, including the Congress.

“Christians have always been sidelined in the Congress because of the Christian background of its president. Scared that the RSS would link any Christian leader’s rise in the power hierarchy to that background, many Christian leaders have been deliberately kept low-key,’’ he said.

The Congress does have powerful leaders from the community, such as defence minister A.K. Antony, though he has desisted from mixing his religion and politics. 

Also read:

One more evidence: Sonia led Congress working for Christians