New Delhi: Former defence minister and senior Congress leader AK Antony on Saturday said that strong action should be taken against bribe-takers as well as bribe-givers in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper bribery case.
“If evidence is with them (the government) take action, do not involve them (AgustaWestland/ Finmeccanica) in the 'Make In India' project,” ANI quoted Antony as saying.
He also hit out at the government over the matter and said, “BJP is in power, what were they doing for two years? They must speed up the CBI and ED enquiry.”
Antony's remarks came shortly after Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar 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 was to inaugurate a war memorial.
“... 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.
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.