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AgustaWestland deal: Centre rejects charge that PM Modi struck deal with Italy

AgustaWestland deal: Centre rejects charge that PM Modi struck deal with Italy

New Delhi: The Centre on Friday refuted the claims made by opposition that Prime Minister Narendra Modi struck a deal with Italy on AgustaWestland case and said the central issue was corruption and any other effort to divert from it was misleading.

The government also termed attempts to link NSA Ajit Doval and principal secretary to PM, Nripendra Mishra to one of the accused of AgustaWestland as a ‘complete baseless assertion and indicative of malicious intent’.

“Those who cannot see Prime Minister succeed even hint at him cutting a deal. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Prime Minister Modi did not cut any deal of any sort,” the government said in a late night statement.

It added that a few have even sought to link one of the accused with Doval and Mishra.

“This is a totally baseless assertion, devoid of reason and logic, and indicative of malicious intent. In reality, there is no such connection,” it said.

The statement said it is indeed tragic that a small section of the Indian polity has attempted, “unsuccessfully”, to divert and defuse the public discourse on this matter. They question the speed of the government processes, especially the investigation but, they do not ask how the corrupt influenced the process of acquisition in the first place and bled the nation.

“They do not admit corruption; they instead boldly proclaim, ‘catch us if you can’,” the statement said adding that government has taken effective action to bring out the truth and will leave no stone unturned in pursuing all means to bring to justice the corrupt and the wrong-doers in this case.

In the matter pertaining to acquisition of AgustaWestland helicopters, the undisputed central issue that stands out is corruption, especially bribery, the statement said.

“Any other line of assumption, approach and effort, as is being attempted in some quarters, is misleading, tries to hide the wrong-doers and is driven by instincts of self preservation,” it said.

On opposition allegations about helicopters purchased by the governments of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the statement said the Centre has been proactive in seeking response.

“They ask as to whey did Modi government not take any action against Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh despite an indictment of Chhattisgarh government by CAG in purchase of AgustaWestland Helicopter, which led to loss to public exchequer (according to CAG) of Rs 65 lakh? “But, the government has been proactive in seeking response from the state governments also.

As per the state government of Chattisgarh, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Chattisgarh Vidhan Sabha took cognizance of the CAG report regarding the acquisition that was done in 2007, and took the evidence of state government officials. After analyzing the evidence of officials and the report of the state government, the PAC closed the matter,” the statement said.

Similarly, as per the Rajasthan government, the alleged loss to public exchequer according to CAG was not on account of any irregularity in the procurement process, but due to the expenditure incurred on account of lack of planning and basic infrastructure prior to procurement, such as pilot training and maintenance, it said adding that in this case too, the acquisition was done in 2005.

“The government appeals to the countrymen to recognise the nature and depth of corruption in AgustaWestland case. The investigative agencies will stay on their course in unveiling the corrupt and holding them accountable to our public,” it said.

Seeking to counter Opposition’s allegation, the government said ever since it was given the responsibility to serve the people, it has acted with speed, drive and purpose to empower the country’s masses. “It continues to relentlessly pursue fearless and transparent governance. One of the core goals of our governance has been to unearth and uproot corruption, and punish the corrupt.”