Cong, NCP back Praful Patel in AI case

Union Minister Praful Patel is at the centre of pay-off allegations in an Air India procurement case in 2007.

Updated: Feb 04, 2012, 00:08 AM IST

New Delhi/Mumbai: Union Minister Praful Patel,
who is at the centre of pay-off allegations in an Air India
procurement case in 2007, on Friday got support from Congress and
his party NCP which maintained that it was wrong to indict
anybody until some material is found.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh meanwhile ruled out any
investigation into the allegations published in a Canadian
daily that Patel, his predecessor, was bribed regarding a USD
100 million Air India contract in 2007.

Patel has already rubbished as "baseless and preposterous"
the allegations.

At the AICC briefing, party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi
insisted "we must keep a sense of balance. Unless and until
some material is coming, it is completely wrong to indict
anybody. The Minister himself has sought a comprehensive

"Even the article says that the alleged bribery did not
lead to any contract. In the event any factual basis for this
is found, full action will be taken", Singhvi said in Delhi.

NCP President Sharad Pawar gave a clean chit to his party
colleague, saying there is "no evidence about the fellow
who is saying something about Patel".

"They have no evidence and the most important thing is
that (newspaper) report says whatever money was offered or
given for a particular job, that job, that decision was never
taken", he told reporters in Mumbai.

Pawar as also Singhvi pointed out that the Minister
himself has written to the Prime Minister seeking an inquiry
into the matter as early as possible.

Ajit Singh said Air India will not have its own probe.
"Anyone can write anything in a newspaper. Thad does not
mean we will investigate. Air India will not have its own
investigation into the issue," Singh told reporters in Delhi.

"He (Patel) has said that he has not done anything. I
have no further information on the issue. He had spoken to the
Prime Minister. He told Prime Minister that he is ready for
any investigation," the Minister said in reply to questions.

A leading Canadian newspaper Globe and the Mail reported
from Toronto that an Indian-born Canadian citizen, Nazir
Karigar, is to be prosecuted on charges of paying off Patel in
a case in which a former Mumbai police chief also figures.