VVIP chopper deal: Antony says he is ready for Parliament session

Playing down reports that he has offered to resign over Choppergate, Defence Minister AK Antony said he will do his duty and is getting ready for the Budget Session of Parliament.

Updated: Feb 19, 2013, 14:33 PM IST

New Delhi: Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Tuesday ruled out his resignation in connection with the VVIP chopper deal.
Antony, however, said that he was sad and upset that such an incident had taken place in spite of all precautions and warnings.
"I am sad and little upset because in spite of taking all the precautions, in spite of warning everybody at every stage (because) if at any stage of procurement foul play is found out even the last stage we will go to any extent cancellation and even blacklisting. We blacklisted six powerful companies on one case of bribery, out of that four companies are internationally powerful companies. Their wings are all over the world, we blacklisted four international companies," said Antony.

"I thought that will be a reminder, warning to everybody and we cancelled many contracts also. We took strong action in many cases, whenever we found something is wrong. But in spite of going to the maximum extent of blacklisting four powerful companies, still there is no end to human greed," he added.

Antony further said the government had nothing to hide and will explain everything in Parliament.

"But at the same time, I will do my duty. I am now getting ready for a Parliament Session. We will explain everything in Parliament, we have nothing to hide. So, now we are preparing to face the Parliament," he said.

A CBI team has left for Italy to probe the allegations of kickbacks in the deal.

The Ministry of Defence earlier on Saturday directed Joint Secretary A.K. Bal
to travel to Italy to gather as much evidence as possible relating to the allegations of corruption in the acquisition of 12 AW 101 VVIP helicopters for the Indian Air Force for the use of VVIPs.

The Ministry of Defence has initiated action for the cancellation of contract for procurement of 12 AW101 helicopters for the use of VVIPs.

The copter scam was unfolded with the arrest of the head of a state-controlled Italian aerospace company.

AgustaWestland, the Italian firm, is presently at the centre of a controversy over allegations of paying kickbacks in the Rs 3600 crore VVIP chopper deal.