AgustaWestland deal: Opposition attacks Modi govt over 'selective leaks'

New Delhi: Opposition on Monday attacked the government in Rajya Sabha, alleging "selective leaks" of
sensitive documents related to the controversial AgustaWestland helicopter deal and sought a probe into the matter.

It alleged that the government was "misleading" through "selective leaks" and expressed concern over the credibility of the sensitive agencies — Defence Ministry, Air force Headquarter, CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED).

"The government must answer: A subject which has been bullentined for discussion on (May) 4th, individuals, various TV channels, journalists have been given sensitive documents of the CBI, ED and Defence Ministry...Who gave the documents? There should be an inquiry," Deputy Leader of Congress Anand Sharma said in the Upper House.

A file photo of the Rajya Sabha. PTI

A file photo of the Rajya Sabha. PTI

"The government is selectively leaking," Sharma said, adding, "If the government is not. Then who else is leaking? We demand the governmnent to do an inquiry."

This is happening despite there being an Official Secrets Act, the Congress leader said.

Alleging that this is "dirty tricks" of the departments which are "coordinated centrallly" in this government, Sharma charged that the government misused the office as he questioned the credibility of the agencies.

"It is a question of how they are misleading through selective leaks of sensitive information. Which government, if it is not complacent at the highest level, will have this scenario where every docuement is given," he said.

Supporting a notice for breach of privilege motion given by Congress MP Shantaram Naik, Sharma said, "Ministers in this government are making statements on the PIB website and not coming to the House but the selective leaks."

"When the House was in session, what prevented the Defence Minister to come in the House and give the statement here? Sir, what is happening?" he asked.

Before initiating debate on a bill to amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, Naik raised a point of order on ministers making statement in the PIB on AgustaWestland deal when Parliament is in session.

"I have given a breach of privilege notice. I pray that the notice be admitted and refer to the Privileges Committee (of Parliament) and action be taken as per the report," he said.

Naik said he was shocked to see Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley issuing a statement on the second day on the PIB on the same topic.

"I ask if Parrikar is the Defence Minister or Jaitley? That clarification also be made," he asked.

Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien asked, "What is the harm in minister giving a statement? I am not able to understand. If it is a policy matter, then the government should restrain."

He added that "If the subject is slated for discussion in the House, the government should come to the House and reply."

While Naik insisted that the Chair should give a ruling if ministers can give a statement during Parliament session, Sharma said, "This is as close as that. How do you differentiate between the two?"

Sharma said there are past precedents that when the House is in session, the government cannot make statement on any important matter.

Kurien said the topic has been slated for discussion on Wednesday and he can raise all concerns on that day.

Updated Date: May 02, 2016 19:19 PM

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