Cong demands SC-monitored probe in VVIP chopper deal

Cong demands SC-monitored probe in VVIP chopper deal

Cong demands SC-monitored probe in VVIP chopper deal
Congress today sought to put the onus on the ruling NDA government about the irregularities in Agusta Westland helicopter deal and demanded a Supreme Court monitored probe in the issue.

"Do not level baseless allegations. Answer the questions which we are raising. Supreme Court monitored investigation should happen and its reports should be placed in the House every three months," senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said in Lok Sabha during debate on a Calling Attention Motion on the issue.

He said it was practice of the BJP members to level wrong and baseless allegations and through that, they want to create an illusion.

"But we too have taken an oath that we will break that 'mayajaal' (illusion) and place the facts in front of the country and this House," Scindia said.

The reality is that this deal was started during the NDA regime in 1999 and the issue they are talking about bringing down the height of the helicopter from 6000 to 4500 metres, it was done by NDA government in 2003 and not the UPA, he said.

In December 2003, a letter was written from the Prime Minister's Office to change the norms and make it 4500 metres, Scindia said.

The moment the issue came ouot in newspapers, he said the UPA government wrote to the embassy in Rome that investigation should be done as early as possible.

In April 2012, it was in fact the UPA government which ordered CBI to investigate the matter, Scindia said, adding that the contract was cancelled on February 15, 2013 and a notice was served on AugustaWestland and on January 1, 2014, the UPA government cancelled that contract.

In February 2013, the UPA government gave the case to the CBI and within 12 days, a preliminary inquiry was lodged, he informed adding Letter Rogatory too was issued to Tunisia, Mauritius and Italy.

"...24 months have passed of your government, what have you done in 720 days of your government? Have you brought in a single penny? Have you even identified a single person who has indulged in corruption," he asked.

"In March 2013, we in the House had proposed to form a JPC (joint parliamentary committee). Why did the NDA oppose that proposal? People of this country should ask why you opposed that proposal in 2013," the Congress leader said.

He said the banning and blacklisting of companies too was started by the UPA government. The then Defence Minister had stated that no deal would happen with AgustaWestland, Scindia said, adding it was UPA government which had brought Rs 2,063 crore.

Stoutly defending his party President, the Congress leader said nowhere did the name of Sonia Gandhi was mentioned.

"Whenever the name of Sonia Gandhi comes, they start feeling irritated and they are afraid also from her because she is a 'lioness' that is why they (BJP) are afraid of her," he said, adding that the mention about the "family" was of Tyagi's family and not the Gandhi family.

On the term 'AP', he said there are so many people who could have this abbreviation and "we have the Gujarat Chief Minister whose initials are also AP...on such things they are labelling the allegations", he added.

Continuing his tirade against the Modi government, Scindia said "you have not been able to get the responses from those countries in two years time ...It was our Defence Minister who stated that corruption is there in the deal and we will investigate that."

Despite being blacklisted, the NDA government permitted the company to send RFI (request for information) some contracts like in the Naval Utility helicopters.

"Why in the FIPB meeting on October 8, 2015, permission was given to AgustaWestland which was a blacklisted company? Answer this ... why Finmeccanica was invited to participate in a Make in India programme," he asked.

"Your (BJP) party president said that this is a bogus company and you invited a bogus company in Make in India. They have to give the answers to this," the Congress member said.

"Today we have put our balance sheet in front of you. Show us your balance sheet of two years. Tell the country that in two years what you have done," he said.

Moving the calling attention motion, Anurag Thakur (BJP) said the way Defence Minister has put his points, truth will come out about "who all have taken the bribe. Was only Tyagi family involved in this?"

"How much time the Defence Minister will take in this investigation, I want to know. If there is any corruption involved, it should be investigated," he said.

Thakur took on the Congress saying the party has "completely ruined the system" and also indulged in corrupt practices.

In all the defence scams, Congress' involvement is there. "Who are the people involved in the AgustaWestland deal? Why was the company favoured," he asked.

He also asked why an Italian company was chosen for the deal and why the parameters of height changed and "if they were not the original equipment manufacturers, why the contract was given to that company".

Why the field trials happened in a foreign country and not in India, he asked, alleging that people like the SPG chief and the National Security Advisor were given constitutional posts so that they could not be questioned.

Thakur said the contract was given to the company by "going out of way. So what does this mean? It means that people took bribe in this. Those people should be put behind bars."

Raising similar issues, Nishikant Dubey (BJP) also questioned the basis of the previous government gave the contract. "The names which have come should be investigated," he added.