AgustaWestland deal: PM speaks, says nothing to hide

AgustaWestland

Under attack from the Opposition over the controversial VVIP chopper deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday he was ready to discuss the issue of purchasing AgustaWestland helicopters in Parliament during the Budget Session beginning Thursday.

"We can always sit down. There is scope for discussion. Parliament is a forum for discussion. We are ready to discuss all issues," Singh said when asked about the Opposition threat to stall Parliament on VVIP chopper "scam".

The Prime Minister was talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function in Rashtrapati Bhawan to confer the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development on noted social worker Ela Bhatt.

The Budget Session of Parliament begins on Thursday.

The BJP has accused the government of a "cover up" in the alleged scam in the purchase of 12 choppers from AgustaWestland at a cost of Rs 3,546 crore.

It has also claimed that the government had kept Parliament in the dark over the internal probe being carried out by the Defence Ministry on the issue.

The Left parties have demanded cancellation of the contract with AgustaWestland, which has already delivered three of the 12 choppers.

The chopper scam surfaced following the arrest of Giuseppe Orsi, the CEO of Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland, by Italian authorities on charges of overseeing payments of bribes to help the company's helicopter division win a contract in India.

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