New Delhi: BJP Claims that ban on Agusta was done by us. cong did nothing on it. As soon as it emerged that bribes had been paid by an Italian company to sell helicopters for Rs. 3,600 crore to India, the Congress says it blacklisted the manufacturer – AgustaWestland and its parent, Finmecannica. The Congress, which was in power in 2014, says that in addition to ordering a CBI investigation, it also blacklisted both firms from competing for defence contracts in India – a decision that was reversed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Who ordered the “blacklisting” – and whether it was quickly relaxed – has delivered the latest episode of the AgustaWestland controversy, which has taken top spot on the agenda for Parliament.
It was in July 2014 after the BJP government took office that action was taken against the helicopter manufacturers, “nothing before that,” said the BJP’s Subramanian Swamy, who isleading the Agusta onslaught against the Congress in parliament. “We will show all this when a discussion happens,”
The BJP says that the Congress’ claim of action against Agusta and Finmecannica is one of the many myths attempted by the party in a cover-up for top leaders, who are mentioned by name in documents that led to Finmeccanica executives being convicted this month in Italy for paying bribes in India.
The AgustaWestland deal, worth Rs. 3,600 crore, was signed in 2010 by the Congress-led government of Dr Manmohan Singh. It was cancelled in 2014, after Italy said it was confident that executives had paid kickbacks worth nearly 30 million euros or Rs. 226 crore.
The Congress says that consequently, in February 2014, it signed an order banning Agustaand Finmecannica from doing any business in India. Because the party lost the election in May that year, it was the BJP that formalized the ban in July.
The Congress says the BJP then inexplicably reversed the penalty. “The blacklisting was modified (in July 2014) and changed to allow them to participate in government contracts. Then, they were granted an FIPB license to do a joint venture to produce helicopters in India,” said Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress to NDTV. He added that last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while in New York for a UN session, invited AgustaWestland and Finmecannica to his Make In India summit, which aims to turn the country into a manufacturing powerhouse, and wean off a decades-long dependency on imported arms.