Rajya Sabha begins AgustaWestland debate

New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday began what is expected to be a fiery debate on alleged graft in the purchase of AgustaWestland VVIP helicopters, with both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress in attack mode against each other.

BJP member Bhupendra Yadav initiated the discussion, accusing the Congress of creating conditions to favour the Italian company for the purchase.

“All defence procurements need to be made transparent,” he said in his initial remarks of a “serious” debate that “involves revelations of curruption in a defence purchase”.

The multi-crore-rupee scam resurfaced last month after the names of some Congress leaders, including party chief Sonia Gandhi, and UPA-II functionaries were said to have figured in a judgment by an Italian court.

AgustaWestland was alleged to have paid Rs.375 crore as bribe to secure the Rs.3,700-crore contract to supply 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force. The previous UPA government scrapped the deal in 2014 over charges of kickbacks to Indian agents.

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