Don't cover up. Don't politicize, said Antony.

AgustaWestland Ahmed Patel defends himself AK Antony accepts there was corruption
news AgustaWestland Deal Thursday, May 05, 2016 - 08:55

Under attack for his name being dragged in the AgustaWestland controversy, Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Wednesday pressed for a thorough probe into the deal, declaring that he will quit Rajya Sabha as well as public life if any allegation against him is proved.

Meanwhile, former Defence Minister A K Antony on Wednesday acknowledged "corruption" in the AgustaWestland chopper deal but said the then UPA dispensation had done no wrong and asked the government to take strong action against those involved without threatening or blackmailing Congress leaders.

Patel, the political secretary to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, said the "propaganda" against him was due to baseless allegations to defame his party and its leaders.

"If anyone proves any wrongdoing by me, I will quit public life and Rajya Sabha. There should be a thorough investigation carried out into this deal and guilty should be punished. Bring the truth out... I repeat again, if you can find an iota of truth against me, I will quit public life and resign from this House," Patel said in Rajya Sabha while participating in debate on the chopper controversy.

At the same time, he questioned, "what about people who are tarnishing the reputation of people by presenting wrong facts and baseless allegations? This is an attempt to defame Congress and its leaders."

Patel's name has been dragged into the controversy because of an initial 'AP' reportedly found in the documents recovered in connection with probe by the Italian authorities.

He said things are being created and "false propaganda" is being carried out to tarnish the reputation of people on the basis of wrong and baseless charges.

"My name has appeared four times in Italian court judgement. But has any leader been indicted or anyone painted as accused?" he asked.

He said he has been in public life for so many years but has never crossed its limits and that the CAG report should not be used as a tool for political mudslinging.

Patel said he had left his old mother behind in the village not to do anything wrong.

"I have not crossed any limits of public life. This is not my first 'agni-pareeksha' (trial by fire)," he said.

He quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who as Chief Minister had said, that 'CAG report should not be used as a tool for political bickerings'.

Antony said the previous NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee had changed the parameters required for acquiring the helicopters for VVIPs.

"Don't try to create doubts, you will not succeed. Don't politicise, you will repent. If you have all evidence, take strong action. But don't threaten and don't blackmail," he said while participating in short duration discussion on the AugustaWestland issue in Rajya Sabha.

Making a spirited defence of the actions of the UPA government, he read out an official release of the Ministry of Defence issued by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) on February 14, 2013, listing steps taken by him as Defence Minister after allegations of corruption surfaced.

"It is proved beyond doubt there is corruption. There is Italy judgement. All legal hurdles are over, you have to act," he said.

Asking the government to conduct the case successfully, Antony said, "You have to first speed up arbitration proceedings. ...Now, corruption is proved and we can get thousands of crores as compensation."

He asked the government to take action against the company which gave money and "take action against takers whoever they may be".

Antony also made a strong plea for immediate ban on companies concerned. "You immediately ban these companies for 10 years. Do it as quickly as possible."

He said that since AugustaWestland has been held as a "corrupt company" by Italian courts, don't involve them in the Make in India projects. "If they are there, remove them.

Don't cover up. Don't politicise."

Antony claimed that the decision to change the flying altitude from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres was taken by then PMO and NDA government of Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2003.

"The decision to change height was taken by the PMO. It was taken during that time. The major decision was taken by your government in 2003," he said.


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