Defreezed, and into a deepfreezer

In India, it pays to be a foreigner. Doubters can check with Quattrocchi on that. Now, who’s this Quattrocchi? Well, one can check with Sonia, pardon, Soniaji, on that. Of course, there is no guarantee of a response, because her voice appears to have been frozen on this issue, unlike the defreezed money of her Italian compatriot and close family friend. But we all believed she also possessed an inner voice. Wonder what happened to that conscientious inner voice! Out on a Roman Holiday perhaps?

They call it Omerta in Italy’s mafia: Sworn secrecy and solid, stony, self-imposed silence, a silence that can be broken only at great risk to life, limb and livelihood. But, for a reader, pardon, leader, a natural one or not, but a naturalized one for sure, who almost became the PM of India, such sinister silence speaketh louder than words. And incidentally, what an un-Indian trait this silence is. Will not ‘Indian’ politicos cry themselves hoarse when faced with such a situation, a la Amar Singh? Sonia had once warned that her enemies do not know the stuff that she is made of. L’affaire Quattrocchi is proving that she sure is of different stock.

After all, the nation, including Sonia’s late husband had never heard of Quattrocchi, until she introduced him to India’s Who’s Who. While during Rajiv Gandhi’s premiership Quattrocchi stalked the corridors of power and profited endlessly out of his ‘connections’, post Bofors scandal, he soon moved from the VVIP catalogue to the wanted list. And it was during the Congress’ rule in 1993 while still wanted, that he scooted the country, right under the noses of the investigators who simply forgot to impound his passport. And today, under yet another Congress government and some more noses, the man coolly walks away with the money which the country, its citizens and its law enforcing agencies believe is part of the Bofors loot. Sure, a combination of carelessness, coincidences, collusions and conspiracies may have aided that. But is there also not a powerful vested interest masterminding all that? And who else could that be other than the silent sphinx ruling this country by proxy now?

From electoral victories to welfare schemes, the Congmen unhesitatingly lay the credit at the doorstep of 10 Janpath. How then can the blame be placed elsewhere for the Quattrocchi quagmire that virtually destroyed the party of Gandhi …I mean the Mahatma, not Maino? But see what’s on parade! The law ministry, its awful, sorry, lawful minister and the CBI contradicted themselves and each other alternately. The PM, acclaimed for his integrity, has gone on record that the CBI acted on its own, something even his wife will not believe. All institutions and individuals have been subverted to let a wanted criminal off the hook with his booty intact. And in the process, insulate and save Sonia. What a shameful cover-up!

And what’s most painful is the all round bid to throw a protective ring around Sonia, as if her preservation is the sole purpose of the nation’s existence. ‘Our head is yours, Signora’ is the chart-popping chorus now. And one servile scapegoat after another readies itself for the chop to propitiate the presiding deity at the All Italian Congress Cult (AICC). The current allies of the Congress were all booming over Bofors then, but they won’t bat an eyelid today. Public memory is short of storage space and in any case, public opinion can’t hang politicos, so why bother is the refrain! The national dailies that wrote reams on the scam now stop with seeking the resignation of the Law Minister and advising the CBI not to bow to political pressure. But they will not name the source of such political pressure. Indeed, this omerta looks very infectious!

Checking an individual’s references is a routine affair everywhere. But such elementary procedures obviously do not apply to Sonia, Quattrochchi’s sponsor and benefactor. It is quite obvious that she is the one and only person who would know anything of substance, whatever it is. But, till date, she has not been interrogated, even cursorily if not intensely, which should actually be the case. This privilege is not available even to our own home grown politicos, let alone the man on the street. And, at least theoretically, the wealth of the local looters could be impounded if there is political will. But against the likes of Quattrocchi who have landed from the Alps with the blessings of Italian angels, there is no recourse and Indian laws are impotent. They and their ill-gotten wealth will respect neither our court’s orders nor the country’s borders! And Q is not a lowly Natwar either, to be dumped just like that; his country counts in this country! As we said in the beginning, in this nation of naive natives, it pays to be a foreigner. Correction. It actually pours! In dollars & Euros.

How very frustrating to be shown up as fools and suckers, that too by a chosen leader! One is only reminded of the Pied Piper who led rats and tots alike to doom. And what a colossal waste of public time and money for nearly twenty years! Indeed, with the defreezing of Quattrocchi’s accounts, the biggest scandal of Independent India goes into deep freeze. The Bofors guns have all but fallen silent, never to boom.

Aah, It’s omerta for those guns also! They too follow the leader!

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Jawahar T R