(Repeating with addition of two paras)

first_imgChopper debate: Govt talks of invisible hand, Antony says dont threaten New Delhi, May 4 (PTI) The controversial AgustaWestland chopper deal today triggered a stormy debate and trading of charges in the Rajya Sabha with the entire opposition pressing for a Supreme Court-monitored probe while Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar spoke of an “invisible hand” in preventing an investigation in UPA tenure. Newly-nominated BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who was fielded by the ruling side, demanded recording of statement from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with others named in the judgement of an Italian court recently. The ruling and the opposition benches clashed repeatedly as the House took up a short-duration discussion on the raging row over the Rs 3600 crore deal in the wake of an Italian courts judgement in which certain initials like “AP” have been recorded. The five-hour debate ended with a walkout by Congress after its demand for SC-monitored probe was rejected by the government. Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad described as an “insult” the Defence Minister reading out a prepared statement in his reply and said it contained only allegations. As Congress members raised objections to Parrikar reading out his reply from a prepared text, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien ruled that a Minister has all the right to read from a prepared speech. Swamy, who has already tilted at the windmills last week seeking to drag Sonia Gandhi into the row, refrained from naming her but made suggestive remarks on Congress leadership, repeatedly drawing protests from the opposition side. He asked, “We need to ask Mr Manmohan Singh whether you had decided not to give documents to the Italian government despite the request. Was it a Cabinet decision or a super Cabinet decision?” At another point, he said he would not name anybody and in an apparent reference to Gandhi, he just remarked “blank, blank, blank…” The Congress fielded the then Defence Minister A K Antony, Congress President Sonia Gandhis political secretary Ahmed Patel along with Abhishek Manu Singhvi to defend the actions of the previous UPA government, insisting that there was no wrongdoing. All of them pressed for a thorough and urgent probe into the matter to clear the air, with Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad wanting the investigation to be monitored by the Supreme Court and completed in three months. The government, however, rejected the demand. “Act now… Take strong action but dont threaten, dont blackmail,” said Antony, while contending that he had immediately taken action after allegations of corruption surfaced in 2012. He contended that it was the Vajpayee government which had taken all the “major” decisions, including with regard to the parameters of cabin height and flying altitude of the helicopters. Patel, whose name has been dragged into the row because of the initials “AP found on a hand-written note cited in the judgement, also sought a probe, declaring that he will quit Rajya Sabha as well as public life if any wrongdoing on his part was proved. While replying to the debate, Parrikar said the ongoing probe will focus on those named in the Italian Court judgement even as he suggested the role of an “invisible hand” in preventing a proper investigation earlier. (MORE) PTI SAP RNK LUX AKK VSCadvertisementlast_img

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