Cong, NCP back Praful Patel in AI case

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 inquiry."

"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.