Cong attacks Raje for incurring loss in purchase of helicopter

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Jaipur, Apr 28: Congress today hit out at Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje for incurring an alleged loss of Rs 1.14 crore to the exchequer in the purchase of AgustaWestland helicopter in 2005, a charge refuted by BJP.

"The report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has indicted Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje for causing a loss of Rs 1.14 crore to the exchequer in the purchase of helicopter. Action against those involved in the irregularities should be initiated," PCC President Sachin Pilot told PTI.

Vasundhara Raje

He claimed the CAG found "irregularities and lapses" that caused a loss of Rs 1.14 crore to the state exchequer. Reacting to the allegations, BJP state president Ashok Parnami claimed that an expenditure of Rs 1.14 crore was made on chartered flights due to non-availability of pilot for the AgustaWestland helicopter from September, 2005 to January, 2006.

Referring to a report of the state Public Accounts Committee 2012-13 which was tabled in the state Assembly when Congress government was in power, Parnami said this expenditure was not "unavoidable" and alleged that the party leaders were levelling baseless allegations.

"The helicopter was received by the state government in September 2005 and Air Force Pilot Capt A K Sharma came on deputation to the state in November 2005 for the VIP flying who was trained by the company in Italy for two months. In the absence of the pilot for the helicopter from September 2005, to January, 2006, chartered flights had to be operated (for the CM) which cost Rs 1.14 crore and as per the PAC report, this expenditure was not unavoidable," he said.

Parnami said the helicopter developed a technical glitch during flying when the then Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was on board in November, 2011 and since then, it is grounded.

"No maintenance of the helicopter was done. It is grounded like scrap," he said, adding that Congress should have its facts correct before leveling allegations. However, Pilot alleged Parnami was "misleading" people. "He is talking about PAC report but the CAG report which found the irregularities is more prominent," he said.

Pilot said BJP was taking up the issue to hide its "failure" on different fronts. "BJP is silent on mining, Vyapam scam and Lalit Modi matter and is trying to mislead people by such issues," he said.


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