It has often being told by Indian Media, that, Rajiv Gandhi wasn't groomed to be a politician, he was merely thrust into the politics arena by unfortunate incident like his brother Sanjay Gandhi's Airplane crash and made a prime minister by tragic assassination of his Mother, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
My long-held belief and the knowledge gathered in my life is quite different from the popular myth. In 70's Indira struck an amazing third world like non-aligned balance, by letting herself do the soviet union friendly rhetoric and her sons being friendly to the west.
Sanjay Gandhi, was then the face of the nehru-gandhi dynasty; was whimsical and would go from socialist in the morning to ultra-capitalist at the dinner.
Rajiv Gandhi, we were told, was the soft-spoken airlines pilot, who earns his bread by flying planes (though he & his family lived with his mother like in a traditional Indian joint family and every penny of their expenses came from the taxpayer's money).
Now we find in Kissinger Cables, his wife, Sonia Gandhi, was a director in Maruti Vehicle's Limited. She however had no prior training, experience or qualification in Automotive Industry.
Rajiv Gandhi was himself an agent of Swedish VIGGEN AIRCRAFT
This US cable was dated, 1975 October 21, 12:25 (Tuesday)
Even the US diplomat was shocked, "INDIAN NEGOTIATOR WITH SWEDES ON VIGGEN AT NEW DELHI END HAS BEEN MRS. GANDHI'S OLDER SON, RAJIV GANDHI. LATTER'S ONLY ASSOCIATION WITH AIRCRAFT INDUSTRY (TO OUR KNOWLEDGE) HAS BEEN AS PILOT FOR INDIAN AIRLINES AND THIS IS FIRST TIME WE HAVE HEARD HIS NAME AS ENTREPRENEUR."
Viggen Aircraft was manufactured by Saab, US promoted this plane since 1960 military-technology agreement at the time of President Eisenhower. So veracity of this US claim can't be denied. In fact, The United States blocked an export of Viggens to India in 1978 by not issuing an export license for the RM8/JT8D engine, forcing India to choose the SEPECAT Jaguar instead.
At that time, fighter aircraft experts will tell you, Saab Scania Viggen was much much inferior the Anglo-french SEPECAT Jaguar or french Mirage, in fact Saab upgraded it considerably in 78-79.
But the French company, Dassault Aviation, was no saint either, same cable quotes " DASSAULT HAS SON-IN-LAW OF INDIAN AIR MARSHALL MEHRA AS ITS CHIEF NEGOTIATOR FOR MIRAGE SALE."
The question remained, who would take the call, the cable is crystal clear on this
"MRS. GANDHI (ACCORDING TO SWEDISH INFO) HAS MADE PERSONAL DECISION NOT TO PURCHASE BRITISH JAGUAR BECAUSE OF HER PREJUDICES AGAINST BRITISH. DECISION WOULD BE BETWEEN MIRAGE AND VIGGEN. THE SWEDISH DIPLOMAT SAID THAT SWEDEN'S NEUTRAL POSITION IN WORLD POLITICS IS OFFSETTING VIGGEN'S HIGHER COST. HE EXPRESSED IRRITATION AT THE WAY MRS. GANDHI IS PERSONALLY DOMINATING NEGOTIATIONS, WITHOUT INVOLVEMENT OF INDIAN AIR FORCE OFFICERS."
There is no denying the fact that in following year, 1976. Indira Gandhi had signed the deal to purchase Saab-Scania Viggen, canvased by Rajiv Gandhi. This can also be verified by any leading newspaper archive or by anyone with strong memory.
Here is the chronology of Rajiv-Indira corruption in Saab-Scania Viggen Deal:
- June 26, 1975: Emergency starts.
- Oct 4,1975: US embassy, sweden informed in a separate cable (microfilm) on Oct 4-5 that India has expressed desire to buy "SAAB-SCANIA VIGGEN".Interest is "Somewhat passive"
- Oct 11,1975: DR.CURT MILEIKOWSKY. THE INDIANS HAVE ASKED FOR PROPOSALS FROM SWEDEN, GREAT BRITIAN AND FRANCE AND ARE SCHEDULED TO MAKE A DECISION THIS YEAR ON WHICH AIRCRAFT, IF ANY, THEY WILL PURCHASE. Saab is requested by Indians, to get, the permits from US for " ENGINE, A MODIFIED PRATT & WHITNEY JT8D, MANUFACTURED ON LICENSE BY VOLVO FLY MOTOR". Sweden has given go ahead on the deal. This memo gave the no-objection from US embassy, Sweden.
- Oct 21,1975: Back at US, Dept. of State, mentions that the Swedish deal needs USG clearances. US laws need to be amended to include India or China
- Oct 21,1975: US Embassy,New Delhi, Sends Infamous Rajiv Memo.
- Oct 24,1975: British claim Jaguar is back in contention. IAF quantifies order, initial order of 40 planes, followed by 40 more.
- Nov 12,1975: SUPREME COMMANDER of SWEDISH DEFENSE FORCES GENERAL STIG SYNNERGREN is against the deal. USA is neutral, but US Ambassador is still recommending sale to go ahead
- Nov 14, 1975: India is showing interest towards Jaguar, aircraft with advanced technology.
- Nov 15, 1975: US Embassy is eager for Viggen sale, but unsure of US stand, do they need a Dept. of State approval or would the swede have to downgrade (US manufactured) armament.
- Jan 23, 1976: DR. CURT MILEIKOWSKY of SAAB-SCANIA is now in favour of the sale, wants clarification on US Govt stand on approvals.Jan 23, 1976: Departmental study of Conventional Arms Supply Restraints claims "Evaporation of the prospective sale of the VIGGEN to NATO countries left INDIA and Australia AS POSSIBLE CUSTOMERS." So we were buying junk at high price, thanks to Rajiv & Indira Gandhi.
- Feb 6, 1976: Swedes see Viggen sale as a bright prospect. Swedes are in New Delhi, including Dr. Curt Mileikowsky. IAF agrees to send a pilot (Rajiv) to test ride Viggen, existing models (even older ones) at Sweden. Crucial bit lies in last paragraph where Rajiv is misspelled as Ranjiv by Saxby
"THE SWEDES HERE HAVE ALSO MADE IT QUITE CLEAR THEY UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY INFLUENCES IN THE FINAL DECISION IN THE FIGHTER SWEEPSTAKES. OUR COLLEAGUE DESCRIBES RANJIV GANDHI IN FLATTERING TERMS, AND CONTENDS HIS TECHNICAL EXPERTISE IS OF A HIGH LEVEL. THIS MAY OR MAY NOT BE. OFFHAND WE WOULD HAVE THOUGHT A TRANSPORT PILOT NOT THE BEST EXPERT TO RELY UPON IN EVALUATING A FIGHTER PLANE, BUT THEN WE ARE SPEAKING OF A TRANSPORT PILOT WHO HAS ANOTHER AND PERHAPS MORE RELEVANT QUALIFICATION."
- March 8, 1976: Kissinger writes memo himself, as US Ambassador recommends and endorses the viggen sale.
- April 12, 1976: US & Sweden discuss Viggen especially to India
- May 18, 1976: SAAB-Scania formally requests US for permission of sale to India
- May 20, 1976: US comments on SAAB-Scania request, cites possible instability in arms race.
- March 16-20, 1977: General Election in India. Indira Gandhi loses election.
- March 21, 1977: Emergency lifted.
- 1978: US blocks Viggen sale.