I have not expressed any reservation: Salman Khurshid on scrapping of VVIP chopper deal

Salman Khurshid

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said that he has not expressed any reservation over the Defence Ministry's move to scrap the Rs 3,546 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, and added that his comment was a sensible one.

"I have not expressed any reservation at all. I have only said what sounds sensible. The decision has to be a collective decision of the government, led by the Ministry of Defence; let them take a decision. I don't think we should take decisions in the media, in the streets of the country," Khurshid told media here.

"We have nothing to hide. It's an outright, objective procedure that has been followed. Keeping all that in mind, the Defence Ministry will recommend what it thinks is the appropriate decision," he added.

Khurshid had earlier expressed his reservation on the defence ministry's plan to scrap the deal. He had also stressed that the final decision would be taken when the issue would be brought before the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the highest decision-making body on defence-related matters. Both Khurshid and Defence Minister A.K. Antony are members of the CCS.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) earlier in the day criticised the government for speaking in different tunes over the need to cancel the deal.

"Till yesterday, we heard the Defence Minister that he is going to scrap the 3,600 Agusta helicopter deal. And he admits that there is corruption, the Defence Minister admits that there is a kickback, which has taken place. But here today, we see the External Affairs Minister Mr. Salman Khurshid says that it has to be discussed in the CCS. There is a visible contradiction," said BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy.

"The Bharatiya Janata Party would certainly like to know now (that) is it a cover-up exercise, which has begun because we are not interested what they do with the scrapping of the deal. We are more interested to know who are the beneficiaries who have got the kickback, who are the culprits; and this is exactly what the BJP has been asking, this is exactly what the people of the country want to know," he added.

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