Antony must take responsibility for chopper deal, quit: TMC

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AK Antony
New Delhi, Feb 27: Defence Minister AK Antony should take moral responsibility for the VVIP chopper deal and resign, said Sukhendu Sekhar Roy of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

Participating in the discussion on the chopper deal, the TMC member slammed the ruling coalition for trying to lay blame on its predecessor for the controversial deal. Roy pointed out that the UPA approved it much after the NDA was voted out of power.

Speaking earlier, BJP's Prakash Javadekar noted that more than one scam has been reported during the defence minister's tenure even though the Congress party always cites his clean image. Antony may be honest but the fact is that dubious defence acquisitions were made while he was at the helm, Javadekar said.

The BJP member riled his Congress counterparts by raising questions about "the family" mentioned in the reports submitted by Italian investigators who are looking into the corruption involving European aerospace firm Finmeccanica and its subsidiary AgustaWestland.

Rubbishing the claim of Congress leaders that "the family" is a reference to former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi and his cousins, Javadekar said that the truth will be revealed if the middlemen in the deal are brought to India to face trial.

The Italian investigators have seized transcripts which mention the payment of kickbacks worth Rs 200 crore to "the family", he told the Rajya Sabha. Congress MPs were upset when he questioned who this family was, Javadekar said.

He demanded a time-bound enquiry by the CBI into the deal and stressed that the money trail has to be identified. Accusing the Congress-led government of presiding over several scandals, he said that in most cases action is taken only after the courts specifically direct it to probe a scam.

BSP chief Mayawati remarked that the UPA has been facing allegations of corruption for years. Most of the time the focus of debate in Parliament is on scams and often issues of national importance are relegated to the background, she said. Mayawati also sought an impartial probe into the chopper deal.

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