AgustaWestland deal: Swamy corners Congress in RS

New Delhi : Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday said the people, who lowered the specifications of height of choppers were not from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), adding the Italian High Court’s judgement clearly mentions the role of Congress leaders.

“The judgment described ‘AP’ as the political secretary. Don’t we know who that is?” he asked.

Swamy, who was speaking in the Rajya Sabha, said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has full right to interrogate the ‘driving force’ behind the VVIP chopper deal as mentioned in accused Michel’s letter.

Asking former prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to clarify as to whose orders did he follow, Swamy said, “There were businessmen, politicians and bureaucrats involved. Italian records have mentioned full name.”

He further sought to know as to why the UPA had the field testing done by other helicopter.

“There was a clear effort to eliminate all other companies so that only Agusta would fit the required criteria,” he alleged.

Speaking earlier, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati said the people of the country want all the names of political bigwigs involved in the scam to come out in the open, adding that people want stringent punishment for them.

“This scam should be monitored by the Supreme Court since politicisation of CBI has been well known to us. The probe should be quick, unbiased and under the supervision of the Supreme Court,” she said.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Majeed Memon on his part said this scam has both political and legal fallout.

“Unfortunately, we are only concerned about the political fallout. We need to investigate the precise nature of crime and the offenders since it is a very sensitive matter,” he said.

Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja said asked the CBI to come up with a progress report on the VVIP chopper deal.

“It has been two years since this party came to power. What progress has the CBI made?” he asked.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today told the Rajya Sabha that he only wanted to give chronology of the events with regard to corruption in the Rs. 3,600-crore sale of 12 VVIP choppers to India.

“This matter is not of today, this pertains to year 2002. I just wanted to inform the House, the chronological order of events, without any comments on them, so that the House is aware of when it took place and what happened,” Parrikar said in the Upper House.

“Whether they want or don’t want, it is for them (Congress),” he added amid uproar in the upper house.

Parrikar, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday, had earlier on Monday said that his address in the Parliament would include how and when necessary clauses or provisions were relaxed to suit the company.

Former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi is being grilled for the third consecutive day by the CBI at its headquarter here in connection with alleged irregularities in the Rs. 3600 crore VVIP chopper deal.

As per reports, the former IAF chief is said to have told the CBI yesterday that he met senior officials of Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland, while negotiations for the purchase of VVIP choppers were going on.

He also told the interrogators that he had met Finmeccanica’s Chief Operating Officer Georgio Zapa in New Delhi on February 15, 2005.

The CBI yesterday quizzed the former IAF chief on the four firms which he and his wife set up after his retirement from service.

Tyagi, who retired in 2007, has told the CBI that he travelled to Florence, Milan and Venice in Italy in 2008 and 2009 after his retirement.

Tyagi has so far rubbished the allegations levelled against him, saying the change in specifications was a collective decision in which senior officers of the IAF, SPG, NSA and other departments were involved.

The former IAF chief’s cousins have also been called for questioning later this week.

Tyagi has been accused in Italy and India of helping AgustaWestland win the chopper contract by reducing the flying ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000 metre to 4,500 metre.

The CBI registered a case against the former IAF chief along with 13 others, including his cousins and European middlemen, in March 2013.

The investigating agency had earlier on Saturday quizzed former IAF deputy chief J.S. Gujral in connection with this case. (ANI)