Defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Saturday the Congress was morally and criminally responsible for the AgustaWestland scam, a day after telling Parliament wrongdoers in the chopper deal will be punished.
“The Agusta scam too big for ex-Air chief (SP Tyagi) alone,” Parrikar told NDTV.
“I didn’t take anybody’s name but it’s clear someone very powerful was involved in corruption,” the defence minister told news agency ANI. “All angles should be investigated, all documents need proper reading.”
AgustaWestland is alleged to have paid Rs 375 crore as bribe to secure a Rs 3,700-crore contract to supply 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force. The contract for purchase of helicopters for the use of VVIPs was signed in 2010. The previous UPA government scrapped the deal over charges of kickbacks.
“I feel no one is above the law. So whether it is the last family or the first, I don’t see any reason why anyone should be given a differential treatment, provided you have proper legal evidence,” Parrikar told PTI.
He was replying to a query on whether the government could take on the Gandhi family, which is often referred to as the first family of Indian politics.
The multi-crore-rupee scam resurfaced last month after the names of some Congress leaders, including party chief Sonia Gandhi, were said to have figured in a judgment by an Italian court.
Parikkar said on Friday it was clear which direction the tainted cash was flowing in. “Be it (SP) Tyagi or (lawyer Gautam) Khaitan, they are small people. Inhone to sirf bahti Ganga me hath dhone ka kaam kiya hai. Bahti Ganga kaha jaa rahi hai, ye dhoondhne ko maine Enforcement Directorate (ED) se kaha hai. (They just joined the bandwagon and I have asked the ED to find out where the real flow of money was heading),” Parikkar said.
Outside Parliament, Congress leaders including Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi took to the streets on Friday, warning the Narendra Modi regime not to take the Congress as a “weak” party.
After the government rejected a Congress demand for a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the chopper deal, Congress members walked out of the Lok Sabha.
Address thousands of supporters near Jantar Mantar in the heart of the capital, Sonia Gandhi accused the government of working under RSS’ diktat.
With agency inputs