Chopper deal: Raman Singh denies allegations

Raipur (PTI): Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh tonight described as “baseless and politically motivated” the allegations of Swaraj Abhiyan leaders of floating a global tender in a “shady manner” to purchase a specific AgustaWestland helicopter by paying “over 30 per cent” commission without exploring options.

“The allegations levelled by former AAP leader Prashant Bhushan are baseless and politically motivated. There was no irregularity in the helicopter deal. It was done through the global tendering process, maintaining full transparency,” the CM said at a press conference at his official residence here.

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He said senior Congress leaders were facing heat over the AgustaWestland chopper deal scam involving corruption to the tune of several crores of rupees and these baseless charges against a BJP-ruled state was “an attempt to divert the attention”. “He (Bhushan) is trying to dilute the issue,” Singh said.

Earlier in the day, Swaraj Abhiyan leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav in Delhi accused the Raman Singh government of paying USD 1.57 million as “commission” to a company registered in tax-haven British Virginia Islands to procure the chopper.

The two also sought to link Raman Singh’s son Abhishek to the controversy saying he formed a company called Quest Heights Ltd on July 3, 2008, almost six months after the bulk of the payment was made by the state government to Sharp Ocean, an agent company.

When asked whether he will pursue legal action against Bhushan, Singh said he will consult his lawyers.

“Procurement of the helicopter was done after taking consent from the technical committee constituted for the purpose in the state. Full transparency was maintained in the entire procurement process,” the CM said.

The allegations were based on the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report for the year ended March 31, 2011, but the report only pointed out that the delay in procurement of the chopper led to the extra expenditure of Rs 65 lakh, Singh said.

Jharkhand had procured the same chopper in 2006, he said, adding the company increased the price for the Chhattisgarh government in 2007.

Abhishek, the MP from Rajnandgaon Lok Sabha constituency, also denied his links to the deal. He also denied having offshore bank accounts.

“I have nothing to do with it,” Abhishek said in a statement.

“I am also being accused of working with Sarda Brothers company. But I want to clarify that Sarda Brothers had never been my employer. All allegations against me are politically motivated, just to malign my image,” he said.

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