The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday questioned the Congress over the AgustaWestland scam and the “loopholes” in investigations in the alleged staged encounter of Ishrat Jahan in 2004, as it in turn faced criticism over the political crisis in Uttarakhand on day two of the second half of the Budget Session.
BJP’s Ravi Shanker Prasad demanded to know from former Defence Minister AK Antony on whether any members of his party were involved in the corruption scam involving purchase of choppers for VVIPs.
“Corruption and lack of probity became integral with the UPA,” Prasad said.
Congress has always dismissed corruption as an unnecessary issue, he said.
The BJP decided to question the Congress over the two issues at a Parliamentary party meeting held before the day’s Parliament session began.
The party also discussed the ongoing crisis and the subsequent President’s rule in Uttarakhand.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Congress and former Home Minister P Chidambaram deliberately hid facts that confirmed Jahan was a militant of the Laskhar-e-Toiba (LeT), Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told the press after the meeting.
“This was the first time that a Home Minister was trying to prove a terrorist as a nationalist. The Home Minister appeared to be working with LeT,” he claimed, adding it was an attempt to “finish” Narendra Modi, who was then the chief minister of Gujarat, and Amit Shah, then a minister in the state government.
“The national would not have seen something as abhorrent and shameful as this,” he said, adding that there would be a discussion on this in Parliament.
BJP has also issued a whip asking all its members to be present in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Last year, the Central Bureau of Investigations estimated that European businessmen James, Gerosa and Haschke had paid some 58 million euros (Rs 423 crore) to have a deal to buy 12 advance helicopters for Indian VVIPs manipulated in favour of AgustaWestland, a UK subsidiary of an Italian company, Finmeccanica.
Sanjeev alias Julie, Rajeev alias Docsa and Sandeep — cousins of former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, also a suspect in the case — were accused of accepting bribes of Rs 10.5 million euros (Rs 7.68 crore) from some middlemen in two installments — first through bank transfers and then through cash.
The deal was cancelled after allegations of corruption flew thick and fast.
Italian defence and aerospace major Finmeccanica’s former chief Giuseppe Orsi was recently sentenced by the Milan appeals court to 4.5 years in jail for false accounting and corruption over the sale of 12 VVIP choppers to India for Rs 3,600 crore.
The court also sentenced Bruno Spagnolini, former CEO of Finmeccanica’s helicopter subsidiary AgustaWestland, to four years in jail.