Discuss AgustaWestland deal in Parliament, Venkaiah Naidu dares Congress

New Delhi: Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday said that the government wants to discuss the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal in Parliament, following allegations of kickbacks paid to political leaders and officers.

 Discuss AgustaWestland deal in Parliament, Venkaiah Naidu dares Congress

File photo. AFP

"We would like to discuss this serious diary bomb which has been published by newspapers on Thursday," the information and broadcasting minister said. "These are very serious allegations. We must try to reach to the bottom of the truth as the house is in session. We must discuss this threadbare in the house because it is the biggest scam in recent years pertaining to defence deals which happened during the UPA regime," he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader also said the report said that six million euros were sent to air force officers, 8.4 million to bureaucrats and 16 million to politicians. The BJP leader's remarks came after newspaper report on Thursday claimed that huge kickbacks were paid in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal.

Naidu also alleged that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government tried its best to hide the truth. "UPA successfully prevented the truth from coming out. But now that there is change of government, the enquiry has to be expedited and then the nation has to be told who is behind all this," the BJP leader said.

Attacking the Congress, Naidu said, "It is quite surprising that the people who are in the cesspool of corruption over the years, and involved in many scams and scandals, still dare to put an accusing finger at the government without any basis."

Hitting out at the Congress, he said that the party's allegations against the prime minister was absurd and if they had any information, then they were free to make it public.

Naidu took a dig at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who had said on Wednesday that he wanted to expose Prime Minister Narendra Modi's personal complicity in corruption but "a terrified government" didn't let him speak in Parliament. "Spit and run tactics will not help. They have been doing it earlier as well, when they tried to tar the image of (Rajasthan chief minister) Vasundhara Raje and (External Affairs Minister) Sushma Swaraj."

"They tried to bring in the names of others, and now they are trying to bring the name of (minister of State for home affairs) Kiren Rijiju. He is no way involved anywhere in this," Naidu argued. "According to these people, some local people who supplied some material and worked with the sub-contractor, were asking for their payments, which were long due. So Rijiju just forwarded that letter," he clarified.

Naidu advised the Congress to first face the "Agusta diary bomb". "My advice to them is to first face this Agusta heat, respond to these allegations, and then discuss other issues, the government has no problem," Naidu said.

Naidu accused the Congress and Opposition leaders for stalling Parliament, saying, "These people have not been allowing Parliament to function for last 16-17 days. In the last few days, they come and say that they want to reveal something. Who has stopped these people from revealing all this? What happened to you all these days? What were you doing? Why were you not allowing the Parliament to function? Why didn't you allow the Parliament to discuss demonetisation — it's effects, side effects and all?" he asked.

"They have done a great injustice to the country by blocking Parliament. Now on the last day you cannot accuse the government that it is blocking him," Naidu alleged.

Updated Date: Dec 15, 2016 15:12:09 IST