Agusta rocks August Houses: Who benefitted, asks Parrikar

Congress says Centre trying to vilify head of a political party on basis of mere insinuation & innuendo.

New Delhi: The much-awaited reply of defence minister Manohar Parrikar to the four-hour-long debate on the controversial Agusta-Westland VVIP helicopter deal was delivered amid a huge ruckus in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

On Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met some senior ministers on the helicopter scam issue, including Mr Parrikar, home minister Rajnath Singh, communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu. This took place in the Parliament House complex soon after a meeting of the Union Cabinet.

As he began his speech, Mr Parrikar promised he would not mention names, and there should be no disturbance. He then referred to an anecdote of Birbal related to a “theft” to suggest that the Congress had got unnerved, fearing that the truth would implicate it.

“The country wants to know who instigated, supported and benefited from the corruption. We cannot let this pass,” Mr Parrikar said. He added the fact that there was corruption in the matter was brought out in extensive details in recent judgments by the Milan court.

sonia gandhi manohar parrikar

“Pursuant to the judgment of the Milan appellate court, the defence ministry has written to both the ED and CBI to take into account the content of the judgment and conclude the investigations expeditiously,” Mr Parrikar said, adding the MoD was initiating the process of blacklisting the firms involved and for legal proceedings for recovery of damages.

“A litany of omissions and commissions at various stages of the decision-making process indicate mala fide and corrupt actions, driven by a goal to favour a particular vendor... We cannot let this pass,” he said.

Read: Parrikar questions Congress defence of AgustaWestland deal

There were animated interjections, among others, from top Congress leaders Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Anand Sharma and Gulam Nabi Azad. Defending the UPA in the matter, Mr Singhvi attributed “innuendoes” against its leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Ahmed Patel to the “visceral hatred” of the BJP, and added the Congress would not be intimidated by such tactics.

The Rs 3,600-crore deal for 12 AgustaWestland VVIP helicopters is at the centre of a raging political slugfest that has kept the ongoing session of Parliament busy. The House also saw Congress members objecting to the defence minister reading out his reply from a prepared text. However, deputy chairman P.J. Kurien ruled that a minister had the right to read from a prepared speech.

Read: Agusta deal: Take action if you have evidence, don't threaten us, Cong tells govt

Congress member Anand Sharma, quoting Rule 167-177, said: “When a discussion is raised, the minister should respond to members. He is not responding to us. He is reading the Akbar-Birbal story. This is just mockery of rules. What is he doing?”

Mr Sharad Yadav said while he had no objection to the written statement, the reply should be short. To this, Mr Parrikar said the reply will be lengthy if he had to respond to all points raised by the Opposition in the four-hour-long debate. As the noisy scenes continued, Mr Kurien said: “I cannot ask the minister how to reply.

Read: India wants to know who benefited from Agusta deal: Manohar Parrikar

The minister can always prepare the speech and read it. If the minister wants to reply to each point, he can do so.” Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad also said: “The minister can read out... This is a four-and-a-half-hour discussion. All members have put their viewpoints. Now the minister is reading. It is an insult. If he has to read it out, he should have circulated it.”

To this, parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said: “This is a short duration discussion. It is normally for two and a half hours. Since everyone wanted to speak, the time was extended. If the minister wants to share all information, he can speak for an hour.

Read: Does Agusta report say Cong leaders took bribe? Ahmed Patel asks BJP

The truth is unfathomable. The ex-minister speaks for one hour, and Parrikar has spoken only for 25 minutes.” The issue was again raked up in the Lok Sabha also with a BJP member demanding a probe to find out who received kickbacks in the deal. Kirit Somaiya claimed that two of the accused in the alleged scam were also involved in other companies and as per a SEBI report, incorporated as directors in Emaar-MGF.

“There have been several arguments from both the ruling party and the Congress. Charges are being traded from both sides inside and outside the house. But since the final probe report has not come yet, it would have been better if the debate was held after that. Our party feels the probe in the case should be monitored by the Supreme Court. We feel there is something fishy because nothing has come out so far.”
— Mayawati, BSP MP

The government should probe the case and then come to the House. This drama should be stopped. There are many other serious problems in the country. How many statements are you giving, specially the treasury benches? You have forces, investigation agencies, ED, still you are beating drums... There is no substance in this case.

— Sharad Yadav, JD(U) MP

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
Next Story