Launching a strong attack on the Congress, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said, “What we could not do in Bofors, may be we can do it in AgustaWestland.
In a point-by-point answer to Congress in the Lok Sabha, Parrikar said the “entire corruption” in the deal took place during the UPA tenure but former Air chief S P Tyagi and Gautam Khaitan are “small people” who “simply washed their hands in a flowing ganga (of corruption).”
He said that the government will “find out where the river was going”.
The defence minister said the previous UPA government had “done everything” to help AgustaWestland bag the chopper deal and asserted that the main beneficiaries of the kickbacks will be tracked.
He said while the decision on the contract was taken in 2010, Tyagi had retired in 2007 and “might have got just a ‘chiller’ (loose change)”.
“Who gave order in 2010?… How much that person has got we have to find that out…. He (Tyagi) was not there then,” the Defence Minister said.
He hinted that some people higher up in the UPA dispensation might have been major beneficiaries of the kickbacks.
“I hope members are satisfied and members will support government in finding the truth. The truth may lead to many unwanted realism,” Parrikar said but deliberately refrained from naming anybody.
As Congress members created uproar and tried to disrupt his speech, he remarked, “Why are you (Congress) concerned? I have not named anybody. You seem to know where the ganga was going.”
Amid a walkout by Congress which was pressing for a Supreme Court-monitored probe, he said CBI is “very seriously” investigating the case.
He said the UPA government had “done everything” to help AgustaWestland bag the Rs 3600 crore deal for purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters and that its action against the company following the disclosure of corruption was not pro-active but “forced by circumstances”.
He asserted that the government will recover damages to the tune of 398 million euros as well as the “bribe”.
Defending Sonia Gandhi, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia described her as a ‘sherni’ (lioness) and said nowhere was her name mentioned.
Here’s what Parrikar said in Lok Sabha:
1. Congress created single vendor situation in AgustaWestland deal.
2. Ceiling height of the chopper was reduced from 6,000 metre to 4,500 metre.
3. Changes made by UPA paved the way for single vendor finalisation in favour of one company.
4. First notice of stopping the deal was issued in 2012, but there were only notices being exchanged, no action was taken.
5. UPA did not take any action against company. It was almost made compulsory by circumstances that you (Congress) acted. Contract termination was a forced action and not a proactive step.
6. CBI registered FIR in matter in March 2013, but copy of FIR was not forwarded to ED till December.
7. Advance given to Finmeccanica for procurement of the choppers hasn’t been recovered yet.