BJP, Congress again duel over AgustaWestland; Shah targets Sonia (Roundup)

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New Delhi, April 29 (IANS) The BJP and the Congress on Friday again indulged in political recriminations on the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal both in parliament and outside, with BJP chief Amit Shah targeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Members of both parties in the Rajya Sabha moved privilege notices on the issue.

The Narendra Modi government too said it was determined to bring those guilty of bribery in the deal to justice and denied that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval or Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s key aide Nripendra Mishra were involved in any way.

In a direct attack on Sonia Gandhi, Shah asked at whose behest the contract terms in the chopper deal were tweaked.

“When the AgustaWestland chopper deal was being finalised, Sonia Gandhi was the Congress president and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power. Their ministers were negotiating the deal,” the Bharatiya Janata Party leader said.

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“The tender had the condition that only original equipment manufacturers could file the tender. Still, AgustaWestland — despite not being an original equipment manufacturer — was allowed to file the tender. Now my question to Sonia Gandhi is — on whose behest this tampering with the original conditions was done,” he said.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy submitted a breach of privilege notice in the upper house against Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad for “lying” that the then Congress-led government had blacklisted helicopter maker AgustaWestland and its Italian parent company Finmeccanica.

Swamy said in a tweet that the breach of privilege notice under Rule 187 was against Azad “for wilfully telling a lie to RS (Rajya Sabha) on AW (AgustaWestland) blacklisting”.

Swamy said before entering parliament that Azad “lied” about the blacklisting.

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The Congress too gave a breach of privilege notice against Defence Minister Manohar parrikar and his ministry.

Congress members Husain Dalwai and Shantaram Naik, citing rules and procedure, said that when parliament is in session an important statement on an issue has to be made in the two houses of parliament and not outside.

The defence ministry on Thursday issued a clarification on the issue through the Press Information Bureau.

Meanwhile, the Congress accused the BJP of levelling false corruption charges against its leaders.

Senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the ruling party should either prove the allegations or stop defaming political rivals.

“Had they been in the opposition, I would have understood their limitations of not having any agencies (at their disposal) to prove or investigate something. But they are in power and have all the (government) agencies to probe whatever they want to,” Azad told the media at Parliament House here.

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Azad, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said the Bharatiya Janata Party had deputed the entire government machinery to come up with all sorts of charges against Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi.

“They are out to defame the Congress. They are doing this to divert public attention (from development work promised by them). We denounce this propaganda,” he said.



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