Won't spare culprits in Agusta scam: Govt

Won't spare culprits in Agusta scam: Govt

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar informed the Lok Sabha on Friday that the government will unearth those who took bribe in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, something that was not done in the Bofors scandal.

As Congress MPs, led by president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, staged a walkout from the Lok Sabha, Parrikar led the BJP government’s offensive against the main Opposition party and the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime over the AgustaWestland deal.

Parrikar said he would ensure that the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, which are probing the scam, did their job, unearthed the money trail and identified the beneficiaries.

“The truth may lead to very unwanted realism. What we could not do in Bofors, maybe, we will do it in AgustaWestland,” said Parrikar. The Bofors scam cast a shadow on the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and his family, though none were convicted for receiving kickbacks.

“We will definitely recover the bribe...We will recover something like Euro 398 million, which is the damage that we are claiming. This process will start now,” Parrikar added.

The defence minister’s statement came while responding to the MPs who sought certain clarifications on his statement in the Lok Sabha on a Calling Attention Motion on the chopper scam.

Congress MPs strongly defended the party’s first family. Congress chief whip Jyotiraditya Scindia hailed Sonia as “sherni” (lioness) and accused the BJP of levelling baseless allegations and running a misleading campaign to malign her and Rahul.

Congress MPs, led by the party’s leader in the House Mallikarjun Kharge, repeatedly interrupted Parrikar’s speech and demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe.

Parrikar targets Antony

The defence minister said that the recent judgment by an Italian court established that a criminal conspiracy was involved in the scam.

Parrikar wondered why A K Antony, defence minister under the UPA regime, had in early 2014 permitted Alenia C-27J Spartan aircraft, manufactured by Finmeccanica’s subsidiary Alenia Aermacchi, to participate in the bidding for 56 military transport aircraft even after the parent company came under the scanner for “bribery” in the chopper deal. The minister, however, said that three key files were not destroyed as an officer had kept them away in a drawer in his office.

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