AgustaWestland Row: Rajasthan govt ‘wanted’ Agusta’s chopper for Vasundhara Raje

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Dec 14: Amid the spark over AgustaWestland case, it seems like Rajasthan’s BJP-ruled government has flown right into the same. However, Vasundhara Raje’s officials assert that there’s nothing wrong with their decision.

Earlier on November 21, Rajasthan government applied a tender asserting that government only wants AgustaWestland’s AW169 helicopter for Raje. The same deal is around Rs 50 crore. The tender did not specified the performace criteria and seating capacity but only asked AW169. Thus, making AgustaWestland the sole company eligible to supply the helicopter.

Arijeet Banerjee, secretary (information and public relations) in the Rajasthan government, told media that “I do not have details but it (the tender) is under a buyback process in which the company has to purchase the helicopter (that) the state has. This can be replaced by a new helicopter from the same company.”

The tender is titled ‘Procurement of a factory new AW169 chopper under buyback of AW109E Power helicopter’.

The deal between Central government and AgustaWestland in 2010 to supply AW101 helicopters for VVIP travel is presently being investigated by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Recently, CBI has arrested former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi and questioned officials who were part of ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office. Earlier in April the year, an Italian court in Milan had held that bribes were paid securing the 2010 deal.

CBI is also investigating the ‘buyback’ scheme in the 2010 deal, the CBI’s focus of investigation is to check that whether the ‘buyback’ scheme was used to supply bribe money.

In a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report of 2008, the national auditor had said the 2005 Rajasthan government decision to buy the AW109 chopper had caused the state government a loss of Rs 1.14 crore. In 2005, a Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government was in power in Rajasthan, which was in the middle of its 2003-08 term.

Wefornews Bureau

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