New Delhi: Comparing the controversial AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal with the Bofors scam of the 1990s, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday demanded an explanation from the government on the delay in initiating a probe into the deal.
"I see a second Bofors in the making. Why was there silence and inaction for one year, when there was proper evidence? (Defence Minister) A.K. Antony had better explain how delivery of the helicopters was allowed when there was evidence that commission was paid, which is illegal," BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad said.
In the Bofors scandal of the late 1980s and early 1990s, several Congress leaders were accused of receiving kickbacks from Swedish firm Bofors AB for a bid to supply India 155 mm field howitzer.
"The CBI inquiry was announced only yesterday (Tuesday). The issue has been raised in parliament by BJP, and the defence minister should explain why proper facts were not presented to parliament. The fact that it was an Italian company, was that ground to let the investigation go slow?" he questioned, insinuating the Italian origin of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Prasad slammed the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the centre, saying that scams were being uncovered in every department of the government.
"Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, please explain why is there a scam in every department of government, whether 2G, CWG (commonwealth games), coal..." he said.
The defence ministry Tuesday ordered a CBI probe into the $750 million deal for 12 VVIP AgustaWestland helicopters, following the arrest, in Italy, of its manufacturer Finmeccanica's chief on charges of graft in the contract.
This is not the first time that the allegations have surfaced. Three of the helicopters have already been delivered to the Indian Air Force (IAF), the first of them in December 2010.
The contract for the helicopters was signed in February 2010.
The IAF has sought the AgustaWestland choppers as a replacement for its Mi-17 cargo helicopters that have been modified for VVIP deployment.
The Comptroller and Auditor General had made an adverse comment, saying the AugustaWestland was a waste of resources.