Govt must identify bribe takers in chopper deal: Jaitley

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Arun Jaitley
New Delhi, Feb 19: On a day when Defence Minister AK Antony admitted that "something happened somewhere" in the VVIP chopper deal, BJP leader Arun Jaitley stressed that all the persons who were bribed must be brought to book.

"We have followed all the procedures. In spite of taking all precautions by all of us including the ministry, IAF, SPG ... one thing is clear that something happened somewhere," Antony told newspersons here on Tuesday.

He was speaking about the ongoing investigations into the payment of kickbacks by Italian firm Finmeccanica to middlemen in order to clinch the deal. Both the company's CEO and the head of its subsidiary AgustaWestland were arrested last week in this connection.

Action is being taken against Finmeccanica, Antony said. The defence ministry has threatened to cancel the Rs 3,600 crore deal under which twelve AW-101 helicopters were to be supplied to India. The Air Force wanted to incorporate these in its elite Communications Squadron and has till date given Rs 1,200 crore for the three choppers already supplied.

The main opposition party feels that the government is still not sure whether to pay the remaining sum. In an interview that was telecast by CNN-IBN, Jaitley pointed out that even if the deal is scrapped it will not make any real difference unless those culpable are identified.

Responding to a query about the real bribe takers in the deal, the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha quipped: "A middleman gets commission, bribes go to the decision makers."

He expressed doubt over the UPA's intentions. "The government certainly can have some time (to find out the truth) ... if the government is honest, identification in possible," Jaitley noted.

His comments indicate that the BJP has not bought any of the ruling coalition's clarifications so far. Congress leaders and senior ministers have urged the opposition not to stall the Budget Session of Parliament on this issue but their pleas may well fall on deaf ears.

OneIndia News 

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