Choppergate: Antony fails to convince opposition
Defence minister AK Antony's spirited argument that the government would bring the culprits responsible for the chopper scam to book failed to convince the opposition, which accused the government of dilly-dallying the investigations.
The Upper house discussed the scandal involving bribery charges on the deal for 12 VVIP AugustaWestland helicopters. The CBI in its preliminary inquiry report has named former air force chief SP Tyagi, among other accused.
In the Rajya Sabha, Antony emphasised that progress of the two parallel inquiries - one in Italy and another in India by the CBI - is definite guarantee that culprits will not go scot-free.
He also said, based on news reports, he had promptly asked the Indian embassy in Rome to find the details from the Italian government. But he added that India could not act faster as the Italian authorities refused to share the files of the investigations until their preliminary inquiry was over.
Countering his argument, BJP leader of opposition in RS Arun Jaitely pointed out that this merely betrayed the government's helplessness and attacked the government for not filing an FIR in the case even a year after the scandal surfaced.
"What did the Indian government do to find out who are they? You don't need the Italians for that….It is a strange case, bribe was given, transaction details are known, quantum of bribe is known, only bribe takers identity is not known," Jaitley added.
The opposition demanded that the CBI probe be monitored by the Supreme Court, but the government said it cannot direct the top court on what it should do.
Replying to the debate, Antony said there would be no "cover up" and the government was determined to go to the "root of the scam". He said the guilty would be severely punished based on the outcome of probes in Italy and India.