Trading of charges have begun in the Rajya Sabha with the opposition pressing for a SC-monitored probe in the AgustaWestland chopper deal as Union defense minister Manohar Parrikar spoke of an invisible hand in preventing a probe in UPA tenure.
The treasury and opposition benches virtually clashed as the House took up a debate on the row in the wake of an Italian court’s judgement in which initials such as ‘AP’ were recorded.
The Congress walked out of the House as its demand for an SC-monitored probe to be completed in three months wasn’t accepted. Leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said it was insulting that Union defense minister was reading from a prepared text.
As the Congress protested to Parrikar reading from a prepared text, Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien said that a minister has all the right to do so.
Though Swamy didn’t name Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, he made enough remarks on Congress leaders, which drew protests from the opposition.
The Congress fielded former defence minister AK Antony, Sonia’s political secretary Ahmed Patel along with party leader and advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi to defend the previous UPA government.
They demanded the matter be probed thoroughly in a bid to clear the air. Antony said he had taken action soon after allegations of corruption surfaced in 2012. The Vajpayee government took all major decisions, he added.
Patel, whose name was dragged into the row announced he would resign from the Upper House and also public life if any wrongdoing on his part was proved.
While replying to the debate, Parrikar said the probe will focus on those named in the Italian Court judgement. He alleged that an invisible hand was directing the CBI and ED.
The CBI had posted a case on March 12, 2013, but didn’t bother to send a copy of the FIR to the agency for nine months.
He said CBI has done probed the money trail to track down where the bribe money went, adding, “We will leave no stone unturned in bringing the guilty to justice.”