A PM's son, his defence deals and Mahajan's dossier
A first person account of the story of a former PM's son whose dossier on defence deals was shown by Pramod Mahajan to another journalist.
The year was 1998. My colleague and friend Shivani Bhatnagar walked into my cabin in Delhi’s Indian Express office and hissed into my ears that she had got a story of her life!
An NDA government led by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had just been sworn in. Shivani, who was part of the Indian Express Investigation Bureau, had just come back to the office after visiting Pramod Mahajan, a Union minister in the NDA government.
Shivani’s story went thus: When she went to Mahajan’s office, he flung a file at her and asked her to read it. The file was a dossier on the son of a former prime minister. It contained information on his foreign visits a month before any defence deal was struck. There were details of a visit to Russia, France and other countries. The dossier even had details of the money deposited in his foreign accounts as part of his commission for the alleged role he played in several defence deals.
This was indeed a big lead and I asked Shivani what was stopping her back from doing this story? She said Pramod Mahajan did not give her the documents. She would, however, get these documents in course of time.
The story never came. Months later, Shivani Bhatnagar was killed in an unrelated incident. Years later, Pramod Mahajan, too, was killed by his own brother. The matter never became public.
But Shivani had little doubt that the story was true and it brings to the fore the reality of high corruption in defence deals.
It, therefore, invests the recent revelation of the Army chief—that he was offered a Rs 14 crore bribe in a defence deal involving Tatra trucks—with some credibility. However, right now it is just General VK Singh’s word against that of the officer who has been accused of offering the bribe, Lt Gen Tejinder Singh.
The Central Bureau of Investigation is looking into it. Maybe, it should also look at the dossier Mahajan flung at Shivani in 1998 – if it can lay its hands on it.
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