AgustaWestland Debate in Parliament: Who Said What in Rajya Sabha

BJP and Congress accused each other of involvement in the chopper case during a heated debate in the Parliament.

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Rajya Sabha. (Photo: PTI)

Rajya Sabha witnessed a heated debate on the AgustaWestland chopper case on 4 May. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar accused the Congress of involvement in the case. Congress, in return, accused the BJP of the same.

The fierce debate eventually led to Congress staging a walk-out from the Parliament.

Other important parliamentarians who participated in the debate include Abhishek Manu Singhvi, AK Antony, Subramanian Swamy, Anand Sharma, Ahmed Patel, Sharad Yadav and BJP’s Bhupender Yadav.

Procurement Process Was Violated: Manohar Parrikar

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar accused the UPA of involvement in the VVIP chopper case and said:

 Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. (Photo: Reuters)
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. (Photo: Reuters)
They (UPA) favoured a particular vendor. They created a single vendor situation. The procurement process was violated. A number of steps were taken by the UPA government from 2005 onwards that resulted in the acquisition of AW helicopters. These steps then became a subject of CAG scrutiny.

He further added, “AK Antony himself admitted that there was corruption in the deal. Sadly, this controversy has also damaged India’s global image. Many crucial aspects of defence procurement were ignored. AgustaWestland helicopters were still in development stages. Trials were not conducted on choppers bought by India but another one as it was still at development stage.”

Parrikar referred to the CAG report which said that the allowed offsets were not in conformance with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

India Will Not Tolerate Corruption: AK Antony

Former Defence Minister AK Antony asked for punishment for the guilty. He further added:

Former Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and former Defence Minister AK Antony in the Rajya Sabha. (Photo Courtesy: <i>Rajya Sabha</i> TV Screengrab)
Former Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and former Defence Minister AK Antony in the Rajya Sabha. (Photo Courtesy: Rajya Sabha TV Screengrab)
There has been a conscious effort by UPA government in eliminating corruption in defence procurement. The decision to change height from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres was made by PMO in 2003 – it was by your government. This decision to change the height was taken by your government, don’t put that on us. In February 2014, we started the blacklisting process.
AK Antony

I Will Resign If Proven Guilty: Ahmed Patel

Senior Member of Congress Ahmed Patel claimed that if he is proven guilty of any wrong-doing he would resign. He demanded a “proper investigation” while coming to the defence of fellow-party members Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, AK Antony.

Don’t create an atmosphere that Congress is corrupt. Just make sure that there is speedy investigation in the matter and make sure that the truth is known to all. You (BJP) and your leaders should stop making baseless allegations.
Ahmed Patel

This is a Travesty of Truth: Anand Sharma

Congress Spokesperson Anand Sharma during a press conference in Delhi.  (Photo: ANI screengrab}
Congress Spokesperson Anand Sharma during a press conference in Delhi. (Photo: ANI screengrab}

Congress Member Anand Sharma defended Sonia Gandhi by saying there is no evidence against the Congress Chief, calling the allegations “malicious and motivated”. Sharma called the accusations a “travesty of truth”.

We know their (NDA government’s) agenda and we are determined to fight and expose that agenda. This is a democracy. Nations are not governed with irresponsibility but with maturity, correctness & wisdom. I have no hesitation to say that it is a travesty of truth, reputations of many are being questioned. Defence procurement process is a long, complex one, we all know that. The new government had to take cognisance of what the previous govt was doing, it is a continuous process. Falsehood is being propagated, people are being misled on purpose.  
Anand Sharma

Public is Being Misled: Subramanian Swamy
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy launched an attack against AK Antony, while claiming the NDA government is being falsely accused.

Subramanian Swamy  (Photo: Reuters)
Subramanian Swamy (Photo: Reuters)
It is well known that corruption has taken place. It is a lie to say that NDA government was the one to change the specification of height (of the helicopters). You (UPA government) had already started the process that everybody else is eliminated and only one company is chosen. Which was that authority above Mr AK Antony who overruled him? I am sure it was not Mr Manmohan Singh. Public is being misled by fake and false news, this is a serious part of corruption. Media involvement should be probed.  

More Important Issues to be Discussed Than This: Sharad Yadav

Sharad Yadav in the Rajya Sabha (Photo: PTI)
Sharad Yadav in the Rajya Sabha (Photo: PTI)

JDU leader Sharad Yadav interrupted saying there are more important issues that require attention. The discussion of AgustaWestland case is hindering the functioning of the Parliament, Yadav claimed.

There are so many more important issues going on in the nation. They are the ones that should be discussed in the House. Why are you not letting Parliament function? Why is this an issue when you have all the agencies to your behest.

Won’t be Intimidated: Abhishek Manu Singhvi

Congress Spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi (Photo: ANI Screengrab)
Congress Spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi (Photo: ANI Screengrab)

Refusing to be intimidated, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi called the Italian court’s judgement “miscalculated”. On the issue of an entry with the initials “AP” in Christian Michel’s letter, referring to Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, mentioned by Italian prosecutors, Singhvi replied saying:

We are relying on interpretations and miscalculations of the Italian court of judgement. That is the totality of a big storm in a teacup. How can you have hypocrisy and double standards just because you have hatred towards certain names? Many references to “APs” in the judgment, Gujarat CM is also AP.

Corruption is Rampant: Bhupender Yadav

BJP’s Bhupender Yadav blamed the system of being inflicted with rampant corruption and called the debate in the Rajya Sabha “a serious matter”.

This debate and discussion are important. Corruption had become so rampant in the system that it was eating the system up like a termite. This debate is a serious matter because it was for the armed forces of the country that the deal was supposed to be struck.

Yadav claimed that according to CAG, the UPA government paid six times more for the chopper deal and demanded punishment for those who took bribes.

We have to make sure that the defence forces are self-reliant. We have to focus on indigenisation. We need to ensure that those who took bribes in the AgustaWestland deal should be punished.

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