BJP dares Congress to come clean on VVIP chopper deal scam | india | Hindustan Times
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BJP dares Congress to come clean on VVIP chopper deal scam

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday dared the Congress to come clean over a VVIP chopper deal scam after an Italian court observed it was “proven” that illegal money had made its way to Indian officials.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2016 23:05 IST
The deal for the AW101 helicopters went off track in 2013 after the then-chief executive of Finmeccanica was arrested by Italian police for allegedly paying bribes to secure the deal.
The deal for the AW101 helicopters went off track in 2013 after the then-chief executive of Finmeccanica was arrested by Italian police for allegedly paying bribes to secure the deal.(Agustawestland.com)

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday dared the Congress to come clean over a VVIP chopper deal scam after an Italian court observed it was “proven” that illegal money had made its way to Indian officials.

“Now that bribe-givers have been convicted, what should happen to the bribe-takers? Will Mr (former defence minister AK) Antony publicly give a statement on this? Will he accept that his partymen are involved in the scam?” he said.

Read: British arms dealer offers help in AgustaWestland chopper deal probe

Senior Congress leader Antony was the defence minister when the VVIP helicopter deal with Italy-based firm AgustaWestland was being finalised and sealed in February 2010 during the United Progressive Alliance government.

In a 225-page judgment, a judge at the Milan Court of Appeals found that bribe was paid by the firm to Indian officials to get the $530 million contract for the supply of 12 choppers.

The Indian government, however, cancelled the deal in 2013 when a controversy over the deal emerged with the arrest of Agusta’s parent organisation Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi by Italian authorities.

According to media reports, the Italian court judgment states how the firm lobbied with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her close aides besides the then National Security Adviser MK Narayanan and the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Gandhi was described by the judge as the “driving force” behind the deal.

Subramanian Swamy, who took oath as the newly nominated member of Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, will rake up the chopper deal issue in the Rajya Sabha for which a notice has been given. Meenakshi Lekhi is expected to do the job in the Lok Sabha.

The BJP raked up the VVIP chopper scandal in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday following the Italian court’s observation that the UPA government showed “substantial disregard” in arriving at the full truth behind the multi-crore scam.

The BJP discussed the chopper deal scam and the Ishrat Jahan case at its first parliamentary party meeting after the second leg of the Budget Session began.

The AgustaWestland revelations, he said, had exposed the Congress and proved that it was all about scams. The opposition party would have to answer, he added.