WITH AGUSTA Westland-VVIP chopper deal back in focus following the arrest of former Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi, there are demands that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should immediately take up the CAG report on the acquisition of VVIP helicopters when the committee meets after the end of Winter Session on December 16.
“We want the PAC to take up the matter soon, hold a discussion on it, and give its report at the earliest. We will raise this issue when the panel meets any day after the Winter Session,” BJD MP B Mahtab, who is a member both of the main PAC and its six-member sub-committee on defence, said.
Mahtab said that an early examination of the issue in PAC will depend on how soon the background note on the issue is submitted to the panel by the Defence Ministry.
BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, a member of the defence sub-committee, said the PAC is yet to take up the Agusta issue, and rued that the panel is not even meeting regularly after it was set up in July.
Dubey had earlier demanded that the defence sub-committee of PAC should be chaired by a member of the ruling party and opposed the appointment of Congress’s Shantaram Naik as its convenor.
When contacted, Naik said that he has “no objection” in taking up the matter and will place demands of the members before the PAC chairman. The PAC chairman K V Thomas has already said that he has no problem in the panel examining the CAG report on the issue.
The defence sub-committee headed by Naik has two members from BJP – Nishikant Dubey and Riti Pathak – one from NDA ally NPF (Neiphiu Rio), and one each from BJD (B Mahtab) and TMC (Sudip Bandyopadhyay).
The CAG had submitted a report on the acquisition of VVIP helicopters in August 2013, in which it had pointed our several irregularities in the process of acquisition. The report had come before the PAC then headed by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi but it was not examined.
The sub-committee has met only once — on October 26 — since it was constituted in July. The issue of CAG report on Agusta deal was not mentioned then.
The issue is expected to generate heat now, as Tyagi’s lawyer has stated in court that the Prime Minister’s Office under Manmohan Singh “dragged” the IAF chief’s office into the “procurement process”. Immediately after Tyagi’s arrest, a BJP leader had said that his party is confident that the “political beneficiaries” of the AgustaWestland scam will also be brought to book”.