AgustaWestland deal: Govt says no delay in ordering probe in chopper scam

Salman Khurshid

Under pressure from Opposition on the VVIP helicopter scam, the government on Friday insisted that there was "no delay" in ordering a probe and asked BJP, which has demanded an investigation by a Parliamentary panel, to approach it on the issue instead of going to media.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the government could not act earlier as information into the allegations was not forthcoming despite its sincere efforts.

"I do not think there was any delay (in ordering a probe) as the reports were unconfirmed reports about some questions being asked outside our jurisdiction. We were asked by the MoD to seek information and information was sought from Italy as well as UK. But no information was forthcoming," he said.

Asked why his ministry could not get information about the alleged kickbacks in the deal, Khurshid said when information was available with the government, a probe was ordered immediately.

"You can only go upto a point without a jurisdiction and as and when that information was made available, the government acted immediately. I don't think you can just keep fishing and jumping the gun and ordering inquiries. When there is that level of information available that required an inquiry the government acts immediately as we have now," he said.

Insisting that the specifications for the choppers were changed during the NDA regime, Khurshid rejected claims that those involved in it had political patronage.

On BJP's demand for a probe by a Parliamentary panel, Khurshid said: "They are demanding JPC through you (media). They should rather demand for JPC from the government. There is a procedure under which they should approach the government over the issue."

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