New Delhi: Amid the ongoing row over the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper bribery scam, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday said that the fundamental question at the centre of the controversy is: "who took the bribe?"
"The biggest question is 'who took bribe?'. That has to be answered by the previous government,” Parrikar said in Dehradun where he is to inaugurate a war memorial today.
“... Italian High Court equivalent clearly said that political corruption was worth 15.8 million euros, that is Rs 125 crores. They have also taken some names," ANI quoted the Defence Minister as saying.
Parrikar's remarks came as the Congress-BJP political battle over the scam heated up inside as well as outside Parliament.
The Congress has sought to corner the Narendra Modi government for allowing the tainted AgustaWestland to take part in the `Make in India` initiative and the Defence Expo.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on the other hand, has accused the Congress of trying to distract the attention of the people from the fundamental question of who were the bribe takers.
Rejecting Congress' charges, BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said, "Under the NDA, not a single thing has been purchased from AgustaWestland. ED is investigating a few people. A lot is happening, so the Congress is just trying to distract public from the question of 'who took bribe'.”
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had earlier asked if AgustaWestland was a `fraud` company, then why did the government allow it to participate in several defence related events, including the Defence Expo.
BJP president Amit Shah had on Friday posed a series of questions to the Congress and sought its chief Sonia Gandhi`s answer in the matter.
An Italian court's judgement convicting former top officials of AgustaWestland and its parent Italian firm Finmeccanica for corruption in the India chopper deal had mentioned the names of Sonia Gandhi, her political advisor Ahmed Patel and former prime minister Manmohan Singh.
AgustaWestland`s Rs 3,600 crore contract for supplying 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force was scrapped by the UPA government over charges of paying kickbacks to Indian agents.
It later assigned the probe into the matter to the CBI.