VVIP chopper scam: Sonia Gandhi had no role, driving force was IAF: AK Antony

Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi, who had retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan were arrested on December 9 by the agency in connection with AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.

VVIP chopper scam: Sonia Gandhi had no role, driving force was IAF: AK Antony

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader AK Antony on Thursday said party president Sonia Gandhi had no role to play in the Rs 3600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.

Defending the Congress president over alleged VVIP chopper scam, the former defence minister said, Sonia Gandhi ji had no role in it, the driving force behind choppers procurement was the Indian Air Force.

Hitting out at the Bharatiya Janata Party Antony said, ultimately the ruling party will be a laughing stock for unnecessarily dragging in Sonia ji's name in the scam.

BJP had claimed Antony had objected to relaxations extended to AgustaWestland regarding field trials but was "overridden", and suggested that the Congress chief was behind it.

Party spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao had said: "A K Antony had questioned the proposal to have the field trial abroad. This is what the CAG report also cites. This is what Anotny had stated: What is the guarantee that credibility of this trial will remain above board if they do not take place in this country. He had recorded on file that this cannot be allowed. The Defence Minister wants RFP (request for proposals) conditions to be imposed. Who in the UPA government or who in the Congress other than Sonia Gandhi and her adviser Ahmad Patel has the authority to override Antony, his objections. Only one who could tell him to keep quiet, who could silence him was Sonia Gandhi."

Interestingly, senior advocate N Hariharan, who appeared for the former Air Force chief SP Tyagi, had claimed that the decision to procure 12 VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a 'collective' one and the Prime Minister Office (PMO) was also a part of it.

71-year old Tyagi, who had retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan were arrested on December 9 by the agency in connection with the case.

The court had on December 10 sent the three accused to four days' CBI custody, which expired today, in the case related to procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from UK-based firm during the UPA-2 regime.

However, the ex-IAF chief will undergo further custodial questioning for three more days as CBI on Wednesday told a court that AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam was a "very serious" case requiring his interrogation to unearth the larger conspiracy as the "interest of the nation was compromised".

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