Congress slams PM for making AgustaWestland an election issue

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New Delhi, May 9 (IANS) The Rajya Sabha witnessed two adjournments on Monday as the Congress accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being lying and using the AgustaWestland row as an election issue.

A little after the house met, Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad quoted a newspaper report from a election rally addressed by Modi in Kerala and said the government was using the deal to malign Congress.

“We discussed AgustaWestland in both houses. In neither houses did any one say that UPA leaders took money. Neither has the (Italian) court said that UPA leaders took money,” Azad said.

“We have said since beginning that the purpose (behind this row) is not to discuss the issue inside the house, it is to use it outside the house and use it in elections to malign the Congress leadership. It is similar to what happened in the 1980s with Bofors,” said Azad.

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“The issue is being raised because it is being used against the Congress in the elections,” Azad said.

He read out a newspaper report which said Modi as saying at an election rally that a UPA leader took money to buy the helicopters.

“Why didn’t the prime minister speak in either house? When it was decided that there should be action, why is he making it an election issue?”

Azad also wondered if the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the issue, will be influenced by what the prime minister says.

“The CBI comes under the PM. if he is using this language, the CBI will be affected.”

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi repeated the government’s stand that guilty in the AgustaWestland case would be punished.

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“Those who have given bribe are in jail, those who have taken bribe will be in jail very soon,” Naqvi said.

Congress leader Anand Sharma asked the prime minister to give a clarification in the house.

“The PM must substantiate the statement he has made. He has said that the court has indicted Congress leaders,” he said.

Congress members then trooped near the Chairman’s podium raising slogans against Modi, calling his a liar.

In the ruckus, the house was briefly adjourned.

When the house reassembled, Kurien said the chair cannot take cognizance of what has been said outside the house.

Sharma then said: “The prime minister has contradicted his defence minister. He is pre-empting a decision.”

Congress members again trooped near the chairman’s podium, forcing another adjournment up to 12 noon.

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