New Delhi: Firing a fresh salvo at Sonia Gandhi over the VVIP chopper scam, BJP on Saturday claimed the then Defence Minister A K Antony had objected to relaxations extended to AgustaWestland regarding field trials but was "overridden", and suggested that the Congress chief was behind it.
Party spokesperson G V L Narsimha Rao told a press conference that Antony had questioned the rationale behind allowing the firm to conduct the field trial of choppers in its premises and not in India, an initial condition in the RFP, asking what is the guarantee it will remain above board.
"A K Antony had questioned the proposal to have the field trial abroad. This is what the CAG report also cites. This is what Antony had stated: What is the guarantee that credibility of this trial will remain above board if they do not take place in this country. He had recorded on file that this cannot be allowed.
"The Defence Minister wants RFP (request for proposals) conditions to be imposed. Who in the UPA government or who in the Congress other than Sonia Gandhi and her adviser Ahmad Patel has the authority to override Antony, his objections. Only one who could tell him to keep quiet, who could silence him was Sonia Gandhi," he said.
There is so much circumstantial evidence to show that the role of Congress bigwigs was there in the approval of contract and its operationalisation, Rao said.
He said the benchmark price decided for a chopper by the UPA government was much higher than the price offered by AgustaWestland, allowing no room for negotiation and added that CAG too had pointed it out.
"Sonia Gandhi and Ahmad Patel are in the dock. They are architects of the scam," he alleged.
He said the real size of the scam is much bigger that what has been reported so far, which is just the tip of the iceberg.