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Barak deal had Kalam's approval: George

Following the Tehelka expose, Fernandes is claiming that Kalam had recommended the missile system initially.

india Updated: Oct 11, 2006 12:11 IST

Dismissing as baseless the allegations of corruption against him in the Barak missiles deal, former Defence Minister George Fernandes on Tuesday, sought to involve President APJ Abdul Kalam in the controversy.

The apparently desperate veteran socialist asserted that any charge in the matter should first be levelled against Kalam who had recommended the Israeli missile system in his capacity as the then Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister.

He also lashed out at Congress President Sonia Gandhi, accusing her of conspiring to get the FIR filed against him by CBI in the case. "This is the handiwork of that lady," he said, harping on his pet theme.

"In so far as Barak is concerned, if they have to make any charge, then it should start with the President who first called for it (the missile system), asked for it before I went into the government," Fernandes stated shortly after the investigating agency filed the FIR naming his as one of the accused in the case.

"He (Kalam) said this is needed and that is how it came. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have come," he told reportersat his residence. According to him, as the decision to purchase the missiles was taken before he took over as Defence Minister, he was only fulfilling the needs of the Navy.

"Thereafter, the Navy insisted that they needed it. I had to take a decision. I took the advice of the present President and the then Advisor to Prime Minister APJ Abdul Kalam... On his clearance, it was done," Fernandes claimed.

Attempting to put on a brave face, the NDA leader stated he did not fear being arrested if the CBI had any concrete evidence against him. Commenting on his close associate and former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitley being implicated in the case, he said an "injustice" was being done to her.

Jaitley herself was not available for comment on the development. According
to Fernandes' aide Anil Hegde, she was travelling abroad and would be back in Delhi on Wednesday.

First Published: Oct 11, 2006 11:18 IST