Sharpening the attack on Congress on the AgustaWestland chopper deal, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely today said the theory that the company was blacklisted during the UPA rule and it was lifted by NDA was a “figment of imagination”.
Jaitley disputed the statement of former Defence Minister A K Antony that the UPA regime had blacklisted AugustaWestland Finmeccanica after the bribe issue come out on the chopper deal.
Targeting Antony, he said the statement given by him to the party suffers from a “misnomer” as much as its mentions that the company was blacklisted by the UPA regime and that it was lifted by the NDA.
“This is a figment of somebody’s imagination,” Jaitley, a former defence minister, said during an interaction with the audience after releasing the NDA vision document for the May 16 Kerala assembly polls here.
He alleged that the decision to award the contract was influenced by bribery.
“The buck stops with those who took the decision and the decision was influenced by bribery. The fact that there was bribery is unquestionably there. There is a transaction in which bribe giver is being convicted. We are only struggling to find out the identity of the bribe taker,” he said.
“Obviously, the bribe taker has to be among those who influenced to ward the contract. Strangers don’t get bribes. Those who influenced decision get bribes,” Jaitley added. Stating that the company was never blacklisted, Jaitley said blacklisting of a company takes place if guilt is established.
Giving details, he said the defence minister of UPA regime had passed an order in May 2014 when its ouster was imminent after the elections, saying that all contracts with Augusta should be put on hold.
After NDA came to power, a detailed order putting on hold all transactions with Augusta was passed on June 9, 2014. The matter was referred to the Attorney General, who opined that past supplies might require some repairs and spare parts.
“Defence prepardness of the country may be hurt if we stop that also…Therefore those can go on, but future contracts shall be put on hold till the matter is investigated,” Jaitely said, adding an order in this regard was passed on July 3, 2014.