Invisible hand behind inaction in helicopter deal probe, says Parrikar

NEW DELHI:Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday told the Rajya Sabha that there were major deviations in the procurement process for the 2010 VVIP helicopter deal, even as his predecessor A.K. Antony challenged the government to take action against Congress leaders.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday told the Rajya Sabha that there were major deviations in the procurement process for the 2010 VVIP helicopter deal.

The deviations favoured AgustaWestland, the Minister said, alleging that it appeared an “invisible hand” was guiding the action or inaction of the investigating agencies under the previous government. After the Modi government was sworn in, the CBI and the ED have been rigorously pursuing all aspects of investigations. “That bribes were paid is known to everybody. Where the money went is being investigated.”

Bid to divert attention

Countering allegations that Congress leaders were among the beneficiaries, Mr. Antony told the treasury benches, “If you have evidence against us, take action. But don’t threaten us.”

A united Opposition tore into the BJP’s attempt to politicise the issue, accusing the government of diverting attention from important subjects like drought and distress in the farming sector.

Congress walks out

The Congress walked out of the House as the discussion was winding up, demanding that the Supreme Court monitor the CBI probe, and that it should be time bound. Before the House assembled, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said there was no quid pro quo and denied the allegation of BJP leader Kirit Somaiya that her son Rahul was involved in a property scam related to the purchase of 12 VVIP copters in 2010.

Copter deal row a diversion: Congress

The Congress said on Wednesday that the government was trying to “vilify the head of a political party” on the basis of mere “insinuation and innuendo” in the VVIP helicopter deal and was attempting to cover up the “disillusionment” over its misrule.

Congress leader Ahmed Patel said he would quit the Rajya Sabha and public life if the charges against him were proved. The Congress demanded that the government place a certified copy of the official translation of the judgment of the Italian court.

Samajwadi Party’s Ramgopal Yadav said the issue was being raised by the BJP to gain “political mileage,” and the party was making “a mountain out of a molehill”. Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal (United) said: “There is no substance in the allegations… Why don’t you dig out corruption in the defence deal? You have been in power for two years; you should not level false allegations against political leaders.”

SC-directed probe sought

BSP chief Mayawati demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe. She said: “The party in power misuses the CBI,” and there were more important issues like drought to be discussed.

Tapan Kumar Sen of the CPI(M) questioned the independence of the CBI.

The discussions repeatedly plunged into noisy uproar as BJP member Subramanian Swamy tried to take Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s name in the House and link her to the scandal.

Earlier, his party colleague Bhupendra Yadav, who initiated the debate, pointed a finger at the UPA government. He said a recommendation had been made to change the Mi-8 helicopters for VVIP travel in 1999 when the NDA was in power, and it was emphasised that the procurement should not be done through a single vendor.


Quoting extensively from a CAG report, the BJP MP said the single-vendor concept was ignored, tests were allowed to be conducted abroad and even the specifications of altitude were reduced to 4,500 feet from the earlier 6,000 feet.