Ruckus in RS as Manohar Parrikar speaks on AgustaWestland deal

Manohar Parrikar

Despite stiff opposition from the Congress, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday 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.

Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, has accused the Centre of pursuing a politically motivated campaign to defame the grand old party through the AgustaWestland copter scam.

Meanwhile, former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi is being grilled for the third consecutive day by the Central Bureau of Investigation (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.


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