BJP demands SIT probe into VVIP chopper deal

Charging the Congress with misusing CBI, BJP Friday demanded a probe into the VVIP chopper deal by a Special Investigation Team monitored either by the Supreme Court or a parliamentary committee.

Hyderabad: Charging the Congress with misusing CBI, BJP Friday demanded a probe into the VVIP chopper deal by a Special Investigation Team monitored either by the Supreme Court or a parliamentary committee.

With accusing fingers also being pointed at itself, the main Opposition party said it had no problem with the probe covering the period when it was in power at the Centre.

"Congress is notoriously known for misusing CBI for partisan political ends. That`s why for BJP the suggestion of a CBI inquiry is not acceptable. Because, CBI has no credibility and the government`s intention is also doubtful," senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters.

He said the government talked about a CBI inquiry only after a case was filed over the issue in Italy and the "revelations" came to light that "payments were made to Indian middlemen also".

He wanted to know why the government acted belatedly despite the issue being raised in Parliament in 2011 and BJP MP Prakash Javadekar writing to the Defence Minister.

"We do not have confidence in CBI. Because we have seen how the CBI, the Governor`s institution, the Income Tax department, the Enforcement Directorate and all other organisations are being misused by the government. One, to harass political opponents, second, to keep its allies under control and third, to win over neutrals," he alleged.

In New Delhi, BJP Secretary Balbir Punj told reporters "The details coming out indicate a very serious conspiracy hatched at the top level which includes the bureaucracy, armed forces and most importantly the political leadership who were a part of it. All efforts are now being made to cover-up this conspiracy".

He maintained that while the Indian government has been silent on this issue for so long, it is the Italians who took the initiative to uncover the scam.

"The Indian government is trying to divert attention from the scam and misguide people," he said, insisting that "somebody very high" appears to be involved in the scam.
Defence Minister A K Antony had on Tuesday ordered a CBI probe into the allegations of huge kickbacks being paid to middlemen in the Rs 3600 crore deal for purchase of 12 three-engine AW-101 helicopters for VVIP security.

Naidu said his party was not averse to the probe covering
the period when BJP helmed the Central government.

Jaswant Singh, former Defence Minister in the NDA government, had yesterday admitted that parameters for purchase of these helicopters, that made Augusta Westland eligible to participate in the bidding process, were changed on the directions of the then National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra but defended the decision saying it was done to avoid a single-vendor situation.

Naidu said BJP would corner the government over the chopper deal in the coming Parliament session.

Replying to a query, he said Italian connections in the deal needed to be probed.

"Italian connections have to be probed. Natural doubts are arising in the minds of the people. I do not want to name any individual without having direct proof.

"But, my point is why the government kept quiet from 2011 to now, after Prakash Javadekar raised the issue in Parliament and also wrote a letter to Defence Minister. The minister told that they will conduct an inquiry. Two years have passed and the government did not act. Why? Who compelled the government not to act?" he said.
All aspects of the deal, like who signed the contract, who were the middlemen and what were their connections, needed to be looked into, he said.

In New Delhi, BJP Vice-President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi demanded that a Supreme Court monitored probe should be ordered in the scam.

"Congress has become an institution of strong middlemen. From coal to copter, there have been exposes of serious kickbacks, corruption and scams," Naqvi said.

He alleged that several scams have been reported in the defence sector itself.

"There are question marks over the submarine deal, the Tatra trucks, Czech pistol issue is still unresolved and now we have the helicopter scam," Naqvi said.

He charged that in all these scams the government and the Congress has been seen defending the "real culprits".