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Papers full of scams: BJP hits out at govt

delhi Updated: Sep 15, 2011 02:43 IST
68 aircrafts

Accusing the UPA of being mired in a number of scams, BJP on Wednesday said it smelt yet another racket in the purchase of 68 aircrafts by Air India when it did not require that many.

"You pick up a paper and look at it and you will find a scam," BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy said at a party briefing here.

The former civil aviation minister also accused the Prime Minister and then finance minister P Chidambaram of being behind the decision to purchase 115 aircrafts by Air India and Indian Airlines, even while the airlines did not seek to purchase that many planes.

The decision of aircraft purchase has also been raised by the CAG, which has pulled up the Government for it.

"There are many issues involved in the issue of aircraft purchase. It is indeed a scam. The only difference is that we are unable to pinpoint the beneficiary of this scam. Unlike the 2G or CWG scams, we are unable to track down the beneficiary in this case," he said.

Rudy said, "There are bare facts which do indicate that there is something beyond that. There is something beyond what we perceive to the present mess and disaster in Air India. It has been done by intent and choice of the Government. I am sure the PAC will take up the issue of aircraft purchase along with that of KG Basin Hydrocarbon."

Rudy said a note signed by then finance minister P Chidambaram of December 24, 2005, as chairman of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGOM) constituted on December 20, 2005, had approved that "Air India will place the entire order for 68 aircraft with Boeing on a firm basis".

"In what capacity did the EGOM have the authority to increase the vendors orders to take the numbers of aircraft to be purchased from 28 to 68 and to confirm the aircraft purchase in what was proposed to Air India as an optional basis earlier," the BJP leader asked.

Rudy also accused the Prime Minister of giving his approval to this decision of the EGOM, which increased the number of aircraft to be purchased from 28 to 68, and sought an explanation from him.

"This is a big question and P Chidamabaram under whose signatures the aircraft purchase by Air India was increased from 28 to 68, would have to reply on how this decision was taken and why were so many aircraft purchased, as Air India had never asked for so many aircraft," he said.

Giving details of the aircraft purchase issue, the former Civil Aviation minister said, "Initially erstwhile Indian Airlines was to purchase aircraft worth only Rs 8,000 crore, while Air India's order for purchase of aircraft worth Rs 40,000 crore."

The Prime Minister is yet to answer to the indictment of the Government by the CAG on the issue of aircraft purchase and the questions raised by the auditor, said the BJP leader.