December 31, 2018
Former Defence Minister A.K. Antony, MP and Randeep Singh Surjewala addressed the media at Parliament House, today.
Shri A.K. Antony said- As a former Defence Minister, I had made a suo-moto statement in 2015 about Agusta Westland. I placed all facts in the Rajya Sabha. Again as a former Defence Minister and as a member of the Rajya Sabha, in the course of debates, I placed all facts also on the table of the House, a press release issued by the Defence Ministry detailing the entire facts about the Agusta Westland, what our Government had done in that. But, again, I am surprised to know, the present Government and BJP are spreading lies and lies. They are trying to manufacture something out of nothing. They are misusing the agencies to manufacture lies, get lies. Therefore, I am compelled to say it again today.
First of all, as a former Defence Minister and during my time, this procurement of Agusta Westland took place. I would like to say categorically, Smt. Sonia Gandhi or Shri Rahul Gandhi have never shown any interest or never interfered in the Agusta Westland deal. Not only that, in the entire period of my Defence Ministership, Smt. Sonia Gandhi or Shri Rahul Gandhi never interfered in the Defence deals and procurement. In the particular case, Agusta Westland was selected after first technical evaluation by a team of officials. They had selected two companies, one American company and Agusta Westland. After that a detailed field evaluation was conducted by a team consisting of Air Force, SPG and Defence officials. They had selected Agusta Westland out of these two companies which was suited and eligible. So, Field Evaluation Committee recommended Agusta Westland. It was not a political issue. It was a purely official decision, based on recommendations by a team consisting of Air Force, SPG and Defence Ministry officials. After that a Contract Negotiation Committee consisting of Defence Ministry officials, Defence Finance officials and also from other security agencies. They have completed that contract negotiation. They recommended that to the Defence Minister, ultimately to the CCS. But, the moment report came from Italy that there is corruption in this case, I only ordered a CBI enquiry not this Government. As a Defence Minister, I ordered the CBI enquiry. Then we took unusual decisions in our Government. I don’t know any other similar incidents in the Government. Our Government took a decision to fight this case in Italy in Milan Court against Agusta Westland, against this complaint of bribery. We joined the case as an interested party. In the hearings, officials from the Defence Ministry, MEA and CBI used to attend. Agusta Westland fought the case, they employed very-very efficient and well known advocates. Ultimately we won the case and we got the entire money we gave to the Agusta Westland, bank guarantee and all the advances, we gave to them, we got it, we got the entire money and more than that those three Helicopters are still lying with us.
So, we ordered CBI enquiry, the moment we got that media news from Italy, we fought the case unusually, in the Italian court and fought the case to get the truth and also to get back the money and to get back their own money, we got the money the entire money back.
Then, in 2014 itself, we canceled the contract and we started the process of black listing the company. But, after we left the office, the present Government, Shri Narendra Modi Government has done nothing against the Agusta Westland. As per the integrity part pact, we have the right to cancel, blacklist and take so many other actions against the company under the integrity pact, but when we left the office, during last four and half years this Government has done nothing against the company. Instead of that, they were favouring the company. They made Agusta Westland as a partner in Make in India and the Aero India. So, instead of punishing them, instead of following the action taken by the UPA Government, they have stopped all the actions and they have started favouring Agusta Westland. It is a truth, but, still the present Government is going like this. Without any iota of truth, they are trying to follow their vendetta politics. As I said earlier, at no point of time either Smt. Sonia Gandhi or Shri Rahul Gandhi has interfered in my functioning as a Defence Minister. They had never interfered and never shown any interest in the Defence deal, this is the reality. All through our Government. Whenever, we found anything wrong, whenever even in the media reports it was mentioned that there is corruption, we started an enquiry.
During our Government; we took decisions to black list six companies, very powerful companies in the world, one American Company, one German Company, one Israeli Company, one Russian Company, one Singaporean Company and one Indian Company. Our Government has shown that conviction of courage and commitment to fight against corruption. When all the media, all of you wrote so many things about Tatra deal. We ordered CBI enquiry. We canceled the orders. So that was our track record, and what is track record of present Government and there is controversy about this Rafale Deal. We were not afraid to have any enquiry. We are just demanding a JPC enquiry. In the JPC NDA will have brutal majority. Majority of member will be from the ruling party. They have got a brutal majority. The chairman will be from the ruling party, but, the advantage for us is that JPC can call the relevant files. JPC can call all files, call all officials concerned that they are afraid of. The files are shown to us. When the officials are called for questioning, many truths will come out.
So, instead of ordering an enquiry, whenever there is a charge against them, they are not allowing. Even the demand for JPC enquiry, they are not allowing. But, during our time, whenever there are allegations against any Defence deal even in media reports, we enquired about it. Whenever there was substance, we ordered CBI enquiry, we canceled Agusta Westland deal, we canceled many other deals and black listed many companies which was our record. Even now these people are spreading lies. They are committing Goebbels and I think now Goebbels will bow before them in telling lies.
On a question related to the BJP allegations on Agusta Westland, Shri A.K. Antony said- I told these are the facts. What I told is total fact and our own records and actions we have taken. बुलाईये इंक्वायरी, सीबीआई इंक्वायरी। If we have anything to hide, will we cancel the contract, will we go to Italy and fight the case. Will we stop all the dealings with this company? We have nothing to hide. This Government is now dilly dallying with the Agusta Westland. They are misusing the agencies. They can do anything. Truth is that, what I said is truth, nothing but the truth.
On a further question if the Government is trying to distract attention from Rafale Scam, Shri Antony said- I told you, the steps we were taking during our time whenever there was allegations- Cancelling, Black listing, Ordering CBI enquiry, Arresting people. On the contrary, these people are not even ready for a JPC enquiry, they are not willing to accept even the JPC demand, where they have got total majority. Chairman will be theirs, only thing is that the JPC can call all the relevant files and call all the officials, question them. Compare both the Governments, our actions, their actions against corruption.
On another question related to black listing the company, Shri Antony said- Our Government started the process of black listing Agusta Westland. Then on that time, we got the legal advice as a case was going on in the Milan Italian Court, black listing at that point of time could have affected the case there. It could have created problem for getting back the money. So, we started with the process, everything was final; only the order was not signed. On a process started by us, they blacklisted the company. Now, why they have invited Agusta Westland to the Aero India. How can they include Agusta Westland, a black listed company as a partner of ‘Make in India’?
श्री रणदीप सिंह सुरजेवाला ने पत्रकारों को संबोधित करते हुए कहा कि ये जो भारतीय जनता पार्टी कह रही है इसे ही कहते हैं ‘चोर मचाए शोर’। आदरणीय ए.के.एंटोनी साहब ने 15 फरवरी, 2013 को अगस्ता वेस्टलैंड को नोटिस जारी कर उसकी ब्लैकलिस्टिंग की कार्यवाही शुरु कर दी थी। ब्लैकलिस्टिंग की कार्यवाही एक तरफा नहीं हो सकती, वो एक प्रक्रिया है और वो प्रक्रिया जैसे हमने कल भी बताया था 3 जुलाई, 2014 को पूरी हुई। मोदी जी तो सत्ता में ही 26 मई, 2014 को आए थे। इसलिए ये वो उस प्रक्रिया की, जो आदरणीय ए.के.एंटोनी साहब ने शुरु की थी रक्षा मंत्री होते हुए और कांग्रेस-यूपीए सरकार ने, जिसका पटाक्षेप कंपनी की ब्लैकलिस्टिंग के साथ 3 जुलाई, 2014 को पूरा हुआ और मोदी जी अगर आप इतने ईमानदार हैं और चौकीदार दागदार नहीं हैं तो फिर जुलाई, 2014 में ही एक तरफ ब्लैकलिस्टिंग का ऑर्डर आता है और दूसरी तरफ उसी हफ्ते प्रधानमंत्री और रक्षा मंत्री अटोर्नी जनरल से ओपिनियन मांगते हैं कि इस ब्लैकलिस्टिंग को खत्म कैसे किया जाए और जुलाई, 2014 में ही ब्लैकलिस्टिंग खत्म करने का ऑर्डर ले लिया जाता है, इससे ज्यादा मोदी सरकार और अगस्ता वेस्टलैंड की षड़यंत्रकारी संलिप्तता का क्या सबूत हो सकता है? अटोर्नी जनरल का ओपिनियन लेकर 22 अगस्त, 2014 को वो ब्लैकलिस्टिंग खत्म कर दी जाती है। तो आप दोषियों के खिलाफ कार्यवाही कर रहे थे या उनके खिलाफ कानूनी राय लेकर उनको क्लीन चिट सर्टिफिकेट देने की फैक्ट्री चला रहे थे?
एक प्रश्न के उत्तर में श्री सुरजेवाला ने कहा कि जब आपने कॉन्ट्रैक्ट ही कैंसिल कर दिया तो ऑपरेशनल प्रिपेरेडनेस क्या रहेगी? क्या ये सही है या गलत है कि आदरणीय श्री ए.के.एंटोनी ने बतौर रक्षा मंत्री अगस्ता वेस्टलैंड से जो रक्षा सौदा था वो 1 जनवरी, 2014 को रद्द कर दिया था, वो रक्षा सौदा आज भी रद्द है। जब आपने रक्षा सौदा ही रद्द कर दिया तो उससे ऑपरेशनल प्रिपेरेडनेस पर कैसे फर्क पड़ेगा? कृपया ये ज्ञान भी मोदी जी हमें दे दें।
Responding to a question on BJP’s claim that Blacklisting of Agusta Westland could have affected operational preparedness, Shri Antony said- there is nothing to do with that operational preparedness. This helicopter is not for military operation. This helicopter is for VVIP movement- President, Vice-President and Prime Minister. It was canceled in 2014. After that, present Government also has not taken any step to procure another helicopter; instead of that during our time and during NDA time also, for VVIP usage now Government are using Russian made the MI-18 upgraded. It is nothing to do operational preparedness, it is VVIP movement. There is going on smoothly about 2014 to till today with Russian made Helicopters.
On another question related to whether BJP Govt has renewed attacks on Congress leadership to counter Rafale Scam, Shri Antony said- There is a possibility, because, even now the present Government is not able to answer many of the questions, we post. I posted five questions, they did not answer that. We post many questions and the entire opposition is demanding for a JPC on Rafale in which they got the majority, their chairman will be there. So, they are panicking. May be they want to divert attention.
On a question about Goa Chief Minister’s reported outburst in cabinet meeting & alleged claim that he cannot be removed as he has many secrets about Rafale deal in his possession, Shri Surjewala said that there are reports, which are now circulating in public domain that two days ago, when there was a Cabinet meeting in Goa, the Chief Minister of Goa, Shri Manohar Parrikar, who is the former Defence Minister, lost his cool over his cabinet colleagues and said that he cannot be removed for he has the copy of the Rafale file. The nation would like to know, whether that is a correct fact? The people of India will like to know whether the reason for non removal of Shri Manohar Parrikar despite his ill health and incapacity to perform as Chief Minister of Goa, is some dirty secretes hidden in the Rafale file which neither Prime Minister Modi want to show to the Supreme Court nor want to show to the JPC, which the opposition is demanding.
If these assertions are correct then it is an extremely serious matter coming from a sitting Chief Minister. We will like Shri Manohar Parrikar to come out and state in Public domain- If this is what transpired in the Cabinet. What is the Rafale file paper he has? What are the dirty secretes hidden there in and what is the reason that those papers cannot be shown either to the Parliament or to the Hon’ble Supreme Court or to people of India? These are important questions that need to be answered. We call upon Shri Manohar Parrikar and his sense of propriety to come out in the open and answer these questions. So, that once for all this web of the deceit and lies over the entire Rafale deal gets clear.
पूर्व रक्षा मंत्री मनोहर पर्रिकर जी से संबंधित एक अन्य प्रश्न के उत्तर में श्री सुरजेवाला ने कहा कि आदरणीय श्री ए.के.एंटोनी ने सही कहा कि भारतीय जनता पार्टी की सरकार, मोदी सरकार राफेल घोटाले की परतें खुलने से घबरा गई है और इसलिए जब उन्होंने अगस्ता वेस्टलैंड का मामला उठाया, तो अब वो उसमें भी घिर गए हैं, जैसा ए.के.एंटोनी जी ने बताया कि अगस्ता वेस्टलैंड को बचाने की मोदी सरकार की साजिश साफ है। परंतु उससे भी महत्वपूर्ण एक और मामला खबरों के माध्यम से संज्ञान में आया है कि दो दिन पहले जब गोवा की कैबिनेट की बैठक हुई तो गोवा के मौजूदा मुख्यमंत्री श्री मनोहर पर्रिकर जो पूर्व रक्षा मंत्री भी हैं, उन्होंने अपने कैबिनेट सहयोगी से थोड़ा गुस्सा होते हुए ये कहा कि उन्हें कोई नहीं हटा सकता क्योंकि उनके पास राफेल फाइल की एक प्रतिलिपी मौजूद है। अगर ये सही है तो देश ये जानना चाहेगा कि उन राफेल के कागजों में कौन सा वो गड़बड़झाला और घोटाला है जिसकी परतों को छुपाने के लिए मोदी सरकार ना वो कागज सुप्रीम कोर्ट को दिखाने को तैयार, ना संसद को दिखाने को तैयार, ना देश को दिखाने को तैयार है। देश के 132 करोड़ लोग मोदी जी और उनकी सरकार से ये भी जानना चाहेंगे कि क्या मनोहर पर्रिकर जी को, उनके स्वास्थ्य पर गंभीर प्रश्न खड़ा होने के बावजूद उनके द्वारा मुख्यमंत्री पद के कार्यभार को ना चला पाने के बावजूद, उनके अस्वस्थ होने के चलते क्या इसलिए गोवा का मुख्यमंत्री रखा जा रहा है कि उनके पास राफेल की फाइल है और उस राफेल की फाइल में कौन से रहस्य हैं, कौन सी वो साजिश है जो राफेल की फाइल में बंद हैं, कौन से वो घोटाले के कागजात हैं, जो राफेल के कागजात में बंद हैं, ये बताएं? हम मनोहर पर्रिकर जी से और उनकी सेंस ऑफ प्रोप्राइटी को अपील करते हैं कि वो देश के सामने इस रहस्य का रहस्य उद्घाटन जरुर करें कि वो क्या गड़बड़झाला और घोटाला है राफेल में? अगर ये तथ्य सही हैं, जिस फाइल को वो लिए बैठे हैं।
On another question that BJP has launched a massive campaign of press conferences on Agusta deal to counter Rafale scam, Shri Antony said- They are going to propagate lies. We are propagating truth. So, lies will not stand in the face of truth.