A CBI team Friday interrogated West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan as a “witness” in connection with its probe into allegations of bribery in the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal with AgustaWestland. Sources said a joint director from the agency in Delhi recorded the Governor’s statement in Kolkata.
The deal signed in 2010 relates to sale of 12 helicopters to India by the Anglo-Indian defence manufacturer.
Narayanan, who was National Security Adviser to Prime Minister in 2005, was in the team that dealt with purchase procedures and tendering process of the choppers to be bought for VVIPs.
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Narayanan reportedly answered questions and recorded statements relating to a 2005 meeting in which a decision was taken to reduce “service ceiling” (or the altitude at which a helicopter can fly) from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres. The changes allegedly ensured that AgustaWestland qualified for the contract.
“We have recorded the statement of Bengal Governor M K Narayanan on Friday. A team from Delhi went to Kolkata to record his statement,” a CBI spokesperson said.
Narayanan is among the Governors that the new NDA government wants to replace because they were appointed by the previous UPA regime.
Officials in the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata remained tight-lipped about Narayanan’s interrogation even as the CBI’s move is set to give the Centre fresh leverage to push for his removal.
Last week, Narayanan had said the decision of his removal rests with the central government and that he had not been communicated anything to that effect. It was taken as an indirect hint that he might not resign on his own.
But government sources said Narayanan may resign any time next week. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her ministers had come out in support of Narayanan, saying he cannot be removed unilaterally without consulting the state government.
Goa Governor B V Wanchoo will be the next to be examined by the CBI in case. He is also slated to resign under the new dispensation.