BJP blames Congress for allowing field tests of helicopters abroad

New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) Attacked by the Congress over the AgustaWestland deal,

the BJP hit back at the Congress on Saturday, saying “it was during UPA rule that they allowed field tests of helicopters abroad”.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also attacked Congress president Sonia Gandhi for allowing field evaluation trials abroad during her party-led United Progressive Alliance government.

BJP president Amit Shah has also raised questions about permitting testing of helicopters on “foreign soil”.

“A.K. Antony, the then defence minister, had questioned the proposal to have these field evaluation trials abroad. This is what the CAG report also cites. What is the guarantee that the fidelity and the credibility of these trials will remain above aboard when they do not take place in this country?” said BJP spokesperson G.V.L. Narasimha Rao.

“The defence minister of this country wanted the RFP conditions to be enforced. Who has the authority to override Antony’s objections?,” he asked.

“The only one who could silence him was Sonia Gandhi. There is so much circumstantial evidence to show that the role of the Congress bigwigs was there in approval of this contract, and in its operationalization.”

“Congress party should answer these questions. My charge is they were in collusion. This is what explains tweaking of service conditions and parameters to soothe AgustaWestland. This is what made them fix a very high benchmark price on the eve of awarding of this contract to AgustaWestland,” said Rao.

“This is what made them allow field evaluation trials abroad. This morning Congress spokesperson said that the ‘2016 defence procurement procedure’ allows field trials abroad. I think the Congress party’s selective picking of information to soothe their own criminality cannot give them any relief,” he added.

Rao further said: “The 2016 defence procurement procedure document clearly spells out field evaluations will be conducted on the basis of trial methodology given in the RFP . This particular RFP for the helicopters clearly spelt out that the field evaluation trials have to be conducted in India.”

“The VVIPs do not fly helicopters in England. They were required for flying them within the country. So how could you allow field trials abroad? These are shocking revelations,” he said.

He also questioned the benchmark price fixed by the UPA government citing the CAG report.

“The CAG observed that the benchmark price was not done on a realistic basis. The cost benchmark by the contract negotiations committee was much bigger than the offered price allowing no room for negotiations,” said Rao.

“They have ensured that whatever price AgustaWestland quoted got passed without a query. Every rule was broken to favour the company. Even Christain Michel was allowed to escape within hours after the CBI filed a chargesheet. The government is now trying to get him extradited. Once he is in custody and starts speaking, I don’t know where the Congress party will get a place to hide,” he added.



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