NEW DELHI — India's Ambassador to Sweden and Latvia, Banashri Bose Harrison, has reportedly written a terse letter to Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter after an interview of a journalist working with the Swedish newspaper with the Indian President blew up into a controversy over a comment on the Bofors scandal.
In the letter dated 25 May 2015, Bose conveyed the "disappointment of the authorities in Delhi" to Peter Wolodarski, the Editor-in-Chief of Stockholm-based Dagens Nyheter.
"It was both unprofessional and unethical on your part to include in the report an off-the-record correction made by the President after the interview had ended, about a slip of the tongue during the interview," Bose wrote.
She went on to say: "I am told at that point you sympathized with him and said it can happen to anyone. After that, to include the same in your report in a most condescending manner as you have done does not befit the high standards normally expected from a leading newspaper or a professional journalist."
The Ambassador does not specify which part was a correction of the slip of the tongue, but the second complaint in the letter is about the Bofors question, so presumably that is the question that has upset the "authorities in Delhi".
Here's the full text of the letter:
Mukherjee’s office is yet to respond to the letter or to the controversy surrounding the President's comments.
Mukherjee had raked up one of India's longest-running controversies from the 80s, the alleged kickbacks paid for the supply of Howitzer guns to the Indian army by Swedish gun manufacturer Bofors, during an interview. Mukherjee refused to call the Bofors deal a "scandal" and said no court in India has given a verdict on it.
In an interview with Dagens Nyhetter at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, ahead of his state visit to Sweden, Mukherjee said "first of all, it is yet to be established that there was a scandal," according to several media reports.
"No Indian court has established it. I was the defence minister of the country long after Bofors, and all my generals certified that this is one of the best guns we are having. Till today, Indian army is using it. The so-called scandal which you talk of, yes, in the media, it was there. There was a media trial. But I'm afraid, let us not be too much carried by publicity," Mukherjee was quoted as saying by Times Of India.
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Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday called the Swedish gun a good one. "I can only certify that Bofors guns are good. I do not make any statement on President's statement. If you ask me about quality of Bofors guns, then they are good," Parrikar told reporters, reported IANS.