RS adjourned repeatedly over chopper scam, CAG report on GSPC

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 02, 2016 15:41 IST
Members protest in the well of the Rajya Sabha (PTI)

The Rajya Sabha was disrupted on Monday as the Congress raised the issue of an alleged mismanagement in the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) during the tenure of Narendra Modi as the chief minister, and the BJP termed it an attempt to divert attention from the AgustaWestland payoffs issue, leading to repeated adjournments.

3:45 pm Trinamool Congress member Sukhendu Sekhar Roy asked who was the beneficiary in the AgustaWestland bribery, and was even banished from the house for the day as he disrupted question hour repeatedly.

The government, meanwhile, said the AgustaWestland issue will be taken up for discussion on Wednesday.

Between repeated adjournments, Chairman M. Hamid Ansari invoked a rule against Trinamool Congress member Roy, and banished him from entering the house for the day.

2:45 pm The Rajya Sabha has been adjourned till 3 pm as opposition continued its protest over CAG report on Gujarat’s petroleum corporation.

2:30 pm Ghulam Nabi Azad says CAG report on Gujarat’s petroleum corporation is a national issue and should be discussed.

1:00 pm The Rajya Sabha was again adjourned till 2 pm after TMC members walked out of the House.

12:40 PM The Rajya Sabha chairman Mohammed Hamid Ansari invokes rule 255 against TMC MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy,asks him to leave. Soon after, TMC members staged a walkout in Parliament.

According to rule 255 , the Rajya Sabha chairman may direct any member whose conduct is in his opinion is grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the council and any member so ordered to withdraw shall do so forthwith and shall absent himself during the remainder of the day’s meeting.

12:04 pm The Rajya Sabha was once again adjourned for 30 minutes. TMC raised the AgustaWestland issue in the house again and demanded that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar make a statement.

Trinamool Congress member Sukhendu Shekhar Roy questioned who the bribe taker was.

11:35 am The Rajya Sabha was once again adjourned till noon as Congress MPs stormed into the well of the house.

Congress raised the issue of alleged mismanagement in the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) and the BJP termed this an attempt to divert attention from the AgustaWestland issue, leading to a brief adjournment.

Congress members raised the issue as soon as the house met. Deputy Chairman P.J.Kurien said the notice given by Congress on the issue was under consideration of the Chairman, M. Hamid Ansari.

11:14: The Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 11:30 am on Monday morning over the controversial AugustaWestland helicopter deal. During the Zero Hour, Trinamool’s Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said, “Defence minister must tell us who all got bribe in the AugustaWestland scam? He should clarify about the names that are doing the rounds in relation to the scam.”

Even before Roy could finish his speech, Congress members stormed the Well of the House in protest.

“They are raking up issues related to an assembly trying to divert attention from AugustaWestland,” said Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

10am The Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Monday gave a notice in the Rajya Sabha for suspension of all business to pave way for an immediate discussion on the alleged AgustaWestland chopper scam.

Earlier, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had questioned the silence of the TMC and the CPI (M) over the VVIP chopper deal.

Read more: UPA 2’s AgustaWestland probe moved at a snail’s pace

9:00 am : Parrikar to place VVIP chopper deal facts in Parliament on May 4

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said he will place all facts along with the detailed chronology about the controversial chopper deal before Parliament on May 4.

“I will place the detailed chronology with documents giving facts about AgustaWestland chopper deal before Parliament on May 4,” he said in Panaji.

Read more: BJP refutes Congress’s charge of slowdown in AgustaWestland probe

The Congress, however, appeared not to be enthused with its Chief Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala saying Parrikar should first answer why the Modi government “undid” the blacklisting of AgustaWestland company.

The BJP on its part again trained its guns on Congress President Sonia Gandhi as its national secretary Shrikant Sharma ridiculed her remarks that she was “not afraid of anyone cornering her” and said, “Congress does not fear anybody because it does not maintain dignity of public life (lok lajja).”

AgustaWestland’s Rs 3,600 crore contract for supplying 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force had been scrapped by the previous UPA regime over charges of paying kickbacks to Indian agents.

In January 2013, the Manmohan Singh-led UPA Government cancelled the deal and the CBI was assigned to investigate whether kickbacks were paid to Indian officials.

Between reports of an Italian probe into graft charges against Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland, and the CBI’s first report of March 2013, the company supplied three helicopters which lie mothballed with the Indian Air Force (IAF) to this day. This delay, also attributable to a secrecy clause and legal stonewalling in Italy, led to the recovery of only 199.7 million euros of the advance after the contract was cancelled.

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