Defence Minister AK Antony today said the government had nothing to hide in connection with the VVIP chopper deal that has come under a cloud following a probe in Italy over payment of kickbacks to Indian authorities.
“We have nothing to hide. The government has nothing to hide. That is why we are waiting for the Parliament session,” Antony told reporters at the sidelines of a function.
“We will give all the details before Parliament,” he said.
The minister is likely to get his wish with the BJP deciding to target the UPA government over the acquisition of AgustaWestland helicopters to transport VVIPs. An Italian court is conducting the trial in a case where kickbacks are alleged to have been paid to various Indian officials, including a former Air Force chief, to facilitate the deal.
Antony said that the government had taken all measures, followed all procedures to acquire the helicopters.
The minister also refuted allegations that there are differences among different ministries over what step should be taken next.
Antony said that the Ministry of Defence had sent an official to Italy to assist and monitor the probe into the matter and the government wouldn’t hesitate to take action against anyone found guilty of corruption.
“We are trying to get the truth. At the moment we have only media reports. We are trying to get details from Italian government,” he said.
When asked if he planned to resign over the scandal, Antony said that he was “saddened” and “deeply upset” over the scandal but had no intention of giving up the ministry.
Defending the government’s track record in tackling corruption in defence procurement deals, Antony said, “I am sorry about this but at the same time I will do my duty. We will explain everything to Parliament. We have nothing to hide.”
The defence minister pointed out that they had taken action against four big international defence equipment manufacturers for irregularities in contracts.
He also said that the government had taken all possible steps to equip the armed forces and they were geared up to face any challenges.
Antony said that there was no political intervention in defence deals in India and if the product was good and cheap then it would be acquired for the armed forces.