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Parrikar on AgustaWestland scandal: Invincible hand guided action or inaction

The ongoing political drama between the ruling BJP and main opposition Congress over alleged payoffs in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal got very intense on Wednesday when Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar launched a direct attack on the Congress, saying "it appears that an invincible hand was guiding the action or inaction of CBI and ED. The country wants to know who instigated, who supported and who benefited from the corruption - we cannot let this pass."

Parrikar's statement angered the Congress MPs in Rajya Sabha and they staged a walkout after the government rejected its demand for a Supreme Court-monitored probe in this case.

A K Antony, who was the UPA Defence Minister when the alleged scam took place, attacked the government saying "complete the cases, blacklist the company, take strongest action against whoever has taken money if you have evidence, take action, prosecute, but don't threaten us."

Antony added that action was taken immediately by him after allegations of corruption surfaced in 2012. He also claimed it was the Vajpayee government which had taken all "major" decisions, including those related to cabin height and flying altitude of the helicopters.

Replying to the discussion, Parrikar said: "A litany of omissions and commissions at various stages of the decision-making process indicates mala fide and corrupt actions, driven by the goal to favour a particular vendor the Italy court has said there are omissions in various stages of decision-making. The fact that corruption has occurred has been brought out in extensive details in the recent judgment of the Italy court."

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said that statement from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must be recorded in this case. Swamy refrained from naming Congress President Sonia Gandhi directly but he kept on alluding to the Congress leadership in his remarks.

Objecting to Parrikar reading from a prepared statement in his reply, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said this was an "insult" and the reply of the minister was full of allegations.