AgustaWestland Continues to Be the Hot Debate in Parliament

Congress reiterated its demand for a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the irregularities in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal.

Credit: PTI

Credit: PTI

New Delhi: On a day when the top leadership of the Congress party was protesting against the government at Jantar Mantar, its leaders took on the ruling BJP in the Rajya Sabha too.

The upper house was adjourned briefly in the pre-lunch session after Congress members trooped into the well of the house raising anti-government slogans protesting the “assault on democracy”.

Deputy chairman P. J. Kurien repeatedly asked them to return to their seats, but to no avail.

BJP member Vijay Goel, who was called to raise his zero hour mention, said he could not speak amidst slogan shouting.

As the sloganeering continued, Kurien adjourned the house a few minutes before noon.

When the house met to take up question hour at noon, Anand Sharma (Congress) alleged that a minister has made a statement that the Rajya Sabha is ‘Agusta House’, an apparent reference to the controversial AgustaWestland deal.

In the Lok Sabha, the Congress repeated its demand for a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the irregularities in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal. During the debate on a calling attention motion, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said, “Do not level baseless allegations. Answer the questions which we are raising. A Supreme Court-monitored investigation should happen and its reports should be placed in the house every three months.”

He said it was the usual practice of BJP members to level wrong and baseless allegations. “The reality is that this deal was started during the NDA regime in 1999 and the issue they are talking about bringing down the height of the helicopter from 6000 to 4500 metres, it was done by the NDA government in 2003 and not the UPA,” he said. Scindia further said that in April 2012, it was in fact the UPA government which had ordered the CBI to investigate the matter, adding that the contract was cancelled on February 15, 2013, notice was served on AugustaWestland, and on January 1, 2014, the UPA government cancelled the contract.

The Congress also walked out of the Lok Sabha as defence minister Manohar Parrikar gave his reply to the debate.

In the Rajya Sabha, the BJP’s Subramanian Swamy was given a deadline to prove that the documents he had cited in the house on the AgustaWestland chopper scam are authentic. If he failed to do so, his remarks during the debate would be struck off, he was told.

With inputs from PTI.