The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday began what was expected to be a fiery debate on alleged graft in the purchase of AgustaWestland VVIP helicopters, with both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress in attack mode against each other.
Click here to read a summary of what happened in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
Here is how the debate panned out on Wednesday
- Rajya Sabha adjourned till 11AM on Thursday.
- Congress stages walk out from Rajya Sabha after defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s statement on Agusta Westland issue.
Manohar Parrikar ends his speech.
- After present Govt took over, CBI & ED have been rigorously pursuing all aspects of the investigation.
- It appears that an invincible hand was guiding actions or inactions by CBI & ED.
- CBI registered an FIR in the case on March 12, 2013 based on reference made by defence ministry on February 12, 2013. But CBI didn’t bother to forward a copy of the FIR to Enforcement Directorate (ED) for nine months. Strangely ED did not act on the FIR till July 2014.
- UPA, instead of taking action against the company, wrote to external affairs Ministry, embassy & court
- Investigation so far in the VVIP chopper case has revealed involvement of Ids Infotech as a channel for transfer of bribe money.
- The benchmark cost given by contract negotiation committee (CNC) was unreasonably high and had provided no realistic basis for price negotiations
- CAG report highlighted that allowed offsets were not compliant with Defence Procurement Policy (DPP).
Uproar in Rajya Sabha after Parrikar’s statement on Agusta Westland issue.
- The fact that there was corruption in the chopper deal is brought out in recent judgments of Milan court.
- India wants to know who instigated, supported and benefited from the VVIP chopper scam. We can’t let this pass.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar begins his speech.
AK Antony ends his speech.
- The decision to change the height was taken by then PMO and NDA Govt
(the chopper’s flying ceiling of 6,000 m and a cabinet height of 1.8 metre was altered allegedly to suit AgustaWestland)
- We acted immediately after the first report in media on alleged scam in helicopter deal.
- It is proved beyond doubt there was corruption in chopper deal, you (NDA Govt) have to act now.
-Former defence minister AK Antony begins his speech.
Read : Will quit public life if found guilty, says Ahmed Patel
- Ahmed Patel ends his speech
- If you can find even an iota of truth in all the accusations being made, I will give up public life and resign.
- And if anyone can prove that from this report, I will submit my resignation.
- My name only comes 4 times in the entire report. Does it say anywhere in the report that the Cong leaders have taken a bribe?
- CAG should not be used as a tool for political bickering.
- Government should probe into the deal, I will quit politics if they get something against me.
- This is not the first time I am being attacked.
- Congress leader Ahmed Patel begins his speech in Rajya Sabha
-Anand Sharma ends his speech.
- What has been said in the House, attributing motives, insinuations, innuendos are without any foundation, malicious and motivated.
- Truth and medicine both are bitter but both are cures - one for lies, the other for disease.
- We know their agenda and we are determined to fight and expose that agenda.
- This is a democracy. What has been referred to, must be authenticated by government, put here and scrutinised legally.
- Congress will answer on every question raised by the ruling party.
- Attempts are being made to mislead the people.
- Congress leader Anand Sharma begins his speech in Rajya Sabha.
- Subramanian Swamy ends his speech in Rajya Sabha
- Will provide authenticated letter copy.
- Bribes couldn’t have been taken by 1 IAF man, ex-PM Manmohan Singh was overruled by ‘super cabinet’.
- Uproar in House as Congress questions AgustaWestLand deal documents quoted by Swamy.
- Congress leader Anand Sharma says rules of discussion have been broken. He demands authenticaion of the documents.
4:50pm: Highlights of Subramanian Swamy’s speech in Rajya Sabha
- Air Force in Jan 2006 gave their benchmark estimate for this deal as 793 cr. This was approved by Mr Antony the then defence minister.
- In Sept 2008, contract negotiations committee arbitrarily fixed Rs 4877.5 cr as the deal which was 6 times more.
- Ruckus in House by Congress members over Swamy’s speech. Venkaiah Naidu requests deputy chairman to allow Swamy to complete his speech.
- CAG says that already present 8 helicpoters which was bought in 1988 was hardly utilised, what was need for this additional 4?
- Original proposal was to buy 8 helicopters, after it became clear that Agusta was only 1 to qualify, they decided to buy 4 more.
- Field tests were not conducted on AW101, supposed to be used for VVIP, but on some other choppers
- There was a clear effort to eliminate all other companies so that only Agusta would fit the required criteria.
- It took a NDA government to ban AgustaWestland.
- They didn’t use AW101 aircraft (which was bought) for field trials but used some other helicopter, which is fraud in its itself.
- That was lowered because it was found that present choice that we have made of AgustaWestland cannot fly beyond 4500 metres.
- People who lowered height was not NDA. It is a lie to say that NDA government was one which changed specification of height..
4:10pm: Subramanian Swamy begins his speech in Rajya Sabha.
3:40m: Highlights of BSP chief Mayawati’s speech
- Our party demands that investigation into #AgustaWestland matter should be quick and impartial.
- Would’ve been better had final investigations report come and then we’d debate.
- There should be a Supreme Court monitored probe into AgustaWestland case.
3pm: Highlights of JDU leader Sharad Yadav’s speech
- No need to make false accusations. Accusations need corroboration else it simply defames people for no reason.
- There are so many more important issues going on in the nation. They are the ones that should be discussed in the House.
- Why are you not letting Parl function? Why is this an issue when you have all the agencies to your behest?.
- Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi leads party’s Agusta defence in Rajya Sabha. Training gun on BJP, Singhvi said charges of corruption leveled against Congress are baseless as the government is trying to divert attention from getting to the root of the Agusta scam.
- Reading the judgment of the Italian court, Sanghvi said “We have no evidence against Sonia Gandhi. Only a mention of her in the facts, as a person who will fly in these machines. The same holds true for Manmohan Singh. We have faith in the loosely translated report of a judge of another country but dont trust our own courts.”
Here is an insecure ruling party trying to foist a charge of corruption on persons unconnected: AM Singhvi, Congress in RS— ANI (@ANI_news) May 4, 2016
“Just because you have inbuilt hatred for certain names doesn’t mean they shall be put in place for initials used,” said Sanghvi in Parliament.
“How can you have hypocrisy & double standard? we have to be more matured,” he added.
- BJP member Bhupendra Yadav initiated the discussion, accusing the Congress of creating conditions to favour the Italian company for the purchase.
- “All defence procurements need to be made transparent,” he said in his initial remarks of a “serious” debate that “involves revelations of corruption in a defence purchase”.
Why did UPA not initiate an investigation into who all took bribes in the #AgustaWestland matter?: Bhupender Yadav, BJP in RS— ANI (@ANI_news) May 4, 2016
- Uproar in Rajya Sabha as defence minister Manohar Parrikar started giving chronological details of AgustaWestland matter.
This matter started in 2002, just wanted to inform the house the chronological order of events in the matter, without any comments: Parrikar— ANI (@ANI_news) May 4, 2016
Parrikar’s much-awaited statement in the Rajya Sabha came in the wake of the ruling BJP mounting sharp attacks on top Congress leaders, including party president Sonia Gandhi, over the deal.
The BJP has alleged that the former UPA government allegedly eased some key clauses to benefit the UK-based AgustaWestland, with whom India had signed a Rs 3,727-crore contract for 12 AW-101 choppers in February 2010.
The firm, a subsidiary of Italian defence conglomerate Finmeccanica, beat off competition from US rival Sikorsky to win the deal.
Much to the delight of the central government, which was facing attacks from the Opposition on the imposition of President’s rule in Uttarakhand as well as its Pakistan policy, an Italian court of appeals in Milan brought the deal back into the spotlight early last month by reversing a lower court’s verdict that there was no evidence of corruption. The court then found former Finmeccanica chairman Giuseppe Orsi and AgustaWestland ex-CEO Bruno Spagnolini guilty of corruption, and sent them to prison.
While former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi and his cousins are suspected to have manipulated the system to swing the chopper deal, the names of some top Congress leaders and bureaucrats have also been linked to the alleged kickbacks. On April 27, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy mentioned Gandhi’s name in the Rajya Sabha while referring to allegations made by one of the middlemen.
Last week, when the Congress sought to defend itself by saying that the company was banned by the erstwhile UPA government, Parrikar challenged it to produce the order blacklisting the firm.