BJP targets Antony over AgustaWestland deal

Saturday, May 7, 2016,17:11 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Kochi | BJP today attacked former Union Minister A K Antony over the AgustaWestland deal, saying since he held the Defence portfolio when the contract was awarded to the foreign firm in 2010, he has to explain who was driving the controversial deal for supplying VVIP choppers to IAF.

Surely, Union Minister Ravishankar Prasad said when asked whether Antony is also responsible for the agreement with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW101 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force. S P Tyagi retired as air chief in 2007.

The contract was given in 2010. Antony should explain who was driving this contract, the senior BJP leader told a meet-the-press programme organised by the Ernakulam Press Club here. He alleged that Antony was forced to order the CBI probe after AgustaWestland chief Giuseppe Orsi was arrested in Italy over the deal.

Antony had no option, Prasad said. The Union Minister, who is in the middle of a campaign for the NDA candidates contesting May 16 Kerala Assembly polls, said though Antony ordered a CBI probe into the deal, no proper investigation was carried out.

The testimony of two people were important to be examined by CBI M K Narayanan, the former NSA chief and B V Wanchoo, the former SPG chief, he said. Both had become governors (Narayanan and Wanchoo were West Bengal and Goa governors respectively) at the time of CBI’s request for examining them.

There is no constitutional bar in asking questions to the governor, Prasad said. I have a political question to Antony. He needs to explain, who were holding your hands? And if you say that the bribe has been given, and the bribe givers have been convicted in Italy, there were some bribe takers too. Why no action has been taken against the bribe takers, he asked.

Noting that in 2005, when UPA was in power 1.85 meters cabin height was made mandatory, Prasad said, This height only AgustaWestland helicopter have…which means no competition, single vendor.

On January 1, 2014, India had scrapped the contract with AgustaWestland for supplying VVIP choppers to IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.

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