Launching its counter-attack, the Congress on Wednesday said its government had banned and blacklisted AgustaWestland, but the Narendra Modi government had renewed the relationship.
Addressing a press conference, former Defence Minister A K Antony dismissed charges that the party leadership had benefited from the helicopter contract. “These are all baseless, malicious allegations. There is not an iota of truth in all this. Otherwise, all the facts and documents are in possession of this government for the last two years. Why has it not acted against anyone?” he said.
The Congress, in a statement, said Modi and his government were “seeking to weave a web of lies, perpetuate falsehoods and construct a mesh of deception to hoodwink the people of India” in the AgustaWestland case.
Antony said the then UPA government had acted against the company “the minute” it was informed about alleged wrongdoings. “We had asked the CBI to inquire into the case on February 12, 2013. In February 2014, we had initiated the process to blacklist AgustaWestland, its parent company Finmeccanica and all its subsidiaries. We also initiated proceedings for encashing bank guarantees and recovered an amount of Rs 2068 crore. Three helicopters of AgustaWestland have remained confiscated with us,” he said.
But, claimed Antony, the Modi government had warmed up to the company again, inviting it to participate in Make in India events and even allowing it to bid for contracts.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala released 10 questions which, he said, the Modi government must answer to clarify its stand in the AgustaWestland case. He asked why the NDA government had allowed the company to escape the ban and why its investment, through a joint venture with Tata, was cleared by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board.
He claimed the Modi government had allowed Agusta-Westland to bid for 100 Naval utility helicopters in April last year. Surjewala said former IAF chief S P Tyagi, who is under the scanner in the case, was linked to the Vivekananda Foundation, the organisation with which National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Principal Secretary to PM Nripendra Mishra were associated earlier.