Biggest question is ‘Who took bribe’: Parrikar on AgustaWestland

Dehradun/ New Delhi: With the Congress attempting to corner the Union Government for allowing the tainted AgustaWestland to take part in the ‘Make in India’ initiative and the Defence Expo, the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) on Saturday said that the grand old party is trying to distract the attention of the people from the fundamental question of “who took the bribe?”.

“Biggest question is “who took bribe?”, that has to be answered by the previous Government… Italian High Court equivalent clearly said that political corruption was €15.8 million, that’s Rs.125 crore, they have also taken some names,” said Parrikar, who is in Dehradun to inaugurate a war memorial.

Echoing similar views, BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli had earlier said, “Under the NDA, not a single thing has been purchased from AgustaWestland, ED is investigating a few people…A lot is happening, so Congress is just trying to distract public from the question of “who took bribe”.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala earlier today accused the BJP of conspiring against it and asked three counter questions in connection with the ongoing debate on the AgustaWestland chopper deal controversy.

Alleging that the BJP was making ‘mountain out of a molehill’, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked if the AgustaWestland was a ‘fraud’ company, then why did the government allow it to participate in several of defence related events, such as the Defence Expo.

BJP president Amit Shah had on Friday posed series of questions and sought Sonia Gandhi’s answer in the matter.

Highlighting that the tender could be signed only by the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), the BJP president questioned AgustaWestland‘s signing the tender despite not being the original manufacturer. Shah questioned Gandhi that under whose direction the provisions in tender was tempered with. Shah also questioned that when the deal of the helicopters had happened, the field evaluation trial was to be done in India and later it was changed.

Shah pressed that if such permission of changes in the tender was given by the then defence minister A.K. Antony, Congress chief answer for the same.

James Christian Michel, the accused middleman in the chopper deal, has offered himself up for questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Michel told The Hindu from Dubai earlier this week that he was willing to answer all questions from the Indian investigators in order ‘to clear’ his name, but insisted he had never met the Congress president or a ‘single Gandhi’ in his life.

Agusta Westland’s Rs 3,600 crore contract for supplying 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force was scrapped by the UPA government over charges of paying kickbacks to Indian agents. In January 2013, India cancelled the deal and the CBI was assigned to investigate the matter.