New Delhi: The Defence Minister AK Antony promised Parliament today that the government will identify and punish those who accepted or paid kickbacks in a deal to buy 12 Italian helicopters. The government won a vote in the Rajya Sabha to set up a parliamentary committee to investigate the scandal; the BJP has refused to participate.
Here are 10 developments:
- Parties like Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajawadi Party, Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party and CPI(M) supported the government for a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the helicopter deal. It will have 10 Rajya Sabha MPs.
- Ahead of the vote, parties including Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress and the BJP walked out of the Upper House in protest. "They are running away," said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath.
- The BJP wants the Supreme Court to monitor the CBI's investigation, commissioned earlier this month.
- BJP leaders say that a parliamentary committee will not be able to complete its inquest before national elections are held next year.
- Refuting allegations of the government's delayed response in investigating the helicopter deal, Mr Antony said, "I feel ashamed whenever any controversy comes around our ministry. Forget politics, see my track record - do I throw complaints in waste paper basket?"
- The government is on the defensive about why it asked for a CBI enquiry only after an Italian investigation said bribes worth nearly Rs. 350 crore had been paid to Indian officials, including former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi. He has denied any wrongdoing.
- The CBI earlier this week announced that the retired Air Force Chief and his three cousins, Julie, Rajiv and Dosca Tyagi, are among those it will investigate.
- Italian investigators have been studying the Indian deal to determine if top executives of defence giant Finmeccanica paid bribes at home and abroad.
- The helicopters that India agreed to buy in 2010 are made by AgustaWestland(AW), a subsidiary of Finmeccanica.
- Defence Minister AK Antony has warned AW that the deal is likely to be cancelled. AW has responded that there is no evidence yet to merit revoking the deal. (Read)