Digvijay hits back at BJP, says ''Westland copter purchase proposal initiated during NDA''

New Delhi, Feb. 13 : Taking on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for targetting the UPA Government over the Augusta Westland copter scam, Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh on Wednesday said this deal was initiated during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime, and added that a CBI investigation has been ordered in this case.

Singh said the case of purchase of Westland helicopter should be seen in different light.

"The purchase of Westland helicopter proposal was initiated during the NDA regime. It is the best helicopter available in this sector. It is bought at a price, which is extremely competitive in its sector. The Italy Government has found certain instances where commission or bribe has been paid for which they have taken action. The moment the Government of India came to know, they have set up a CBI investigation," said Singh.

"Now, where is the question of taking any more action? I will request the BJP to give me and suggest something what can be done in this, what more can be done in this because had this situation come during their tenure what would they have done. No person can be hanged or no person can be punished without proper investigation and CBI will investigate this case on its own," he added.

Hinting at the Italian connection, the BJP today sought an answer from Defence Minister A. K. Antony as to why the government went so slow in the Augusta Westland copter deal.

BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said that his party would soon finalise its strategy on this issue, but added that he sees it the making of a second Bofors.

" Mr. A. K. Antony please explain first and I would like this question to be put to Sonia Gandhi and also Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh- when these things were in the public domain why did the government not choose even to initiate a preliminary inquiry, allowed the delivery of helicopters and what serious attempts were made to get information from the Government of India," he added.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, however, defended the government on the issue, and said that India is in touch with Italy to get information on the chopper deal. Khurshid said the government will act as per the law and not to please the opposition.

The Defence Minister earlier in the day said that the CBI has been asked to give an early report on its probe into alleged helicopter deal.

Antony, who was speaking to the media at the Asian Security Conference here, said corruption will not be tolerated in defence deal, and added that the government will take strict action against the guilty.

The CEO of Italian defence firm, Finmeccanica, has been arrested for allegedly offering bribes in India to procure the Augusta Westland VVIP chopper deal. (ANI)


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