PTI File Photo
Antony Confirms Bribe Episode, Faces Tough Questions
Caught in the middle of a raging row over atttempt to bribe in a
military deal, Defence Minister A K Antony today sought to shift the
blame on Army Chief Gen V K Singh for not taking any action but
faced some close questioning in the Rajya Sabha over the issue.
A day after media reported the army chief's claim that a retired
official offered him a bribe of Rs.14 crore for swinging a deal for
purchase of trucks, Antony took the floor to confirm that Gen Singh had
told him about retired Lt Gen Tejender Singh's bribe offer.
"This happened more than one year ago. That is my memory. Exact date
they (army officials) know because no one can meet the army chief
without any appointment," he said adding he was "shocked" and told Gen
Singh to take action.
"But he told me I do not not want to pursue it. I don't know why he did not not want to pursue it at that time," he said.
Antony promised action against anybody, howsoever powerful he may be, who would be found guilty.
However, the minister faced some tough questions from the BJP members
including Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley and a CPI(M) member T K
Rangarajan as to why he did not not follow it up with action.
The members said they did not not question Antony's integrity but
wondered why neither Antony nor the army chief took any action on the
development that took place more than a year ago.
"I acted on my judgement. If I am wrong, you may punish me. I think I have done my best," he said.
When asked about his inaction, Antony said it has been his policy to
take action even on anonymous complaints but in this case there was
nothing in writing.
He admitted he "could have acted" when Gen Singh told him about the
bribe offer but added as a minister "I cannot act just on a complaint...
I did not not get any written complaint."
Antony said when he read about the allegations in a newspaper yesterday,
he immediately told the Defence Secretary to take action without
waiting for any formal complaint.
Since then CBI inquiry has been ordered for a comprehensive probe. "CBI will inquire into everything," he said.
Taking the minister on his statement, Jaitley said there seemed to be
lack of statecraft on the part of the government on many issues and this
was one such.
"Is this an issue on which both of them should have put blinkers on
their eyes and not not inquired into the matter at all," Jaitley said
about the army chief orally bringing the issue to the notice of the
He said the Opposition was with the minister if he wanted to "cleanse"
the system but there should be a judicious balance with respect to
procurements as the country "could not not be left unprepared".
As opposition members insisted that defence preparedness should not not
suffer due to "over-obsession" with probity, Antony said it was a
"serious challenge" to tighten the system as well as to ensure that
procurement is not not affected.
The minister said he was discussing the matter including expediting
procurement with chiefs of the defence services and officials of the
Noting that all major countries like US, Russia, Israel, UK, Germany,
France and South Korea selling arms are eyeing the Indian market, the
minister said a series of complaints are lodged by the ones which fail
to bag the contracts.
"My problem is that I cannot ignore any complaint. That is why it delays
procurement," he said but added "in spite of these, procurement is not
bad. Last year it was 100 per cent."
BJP member S S Ahluwalia wanted know the terms of reference of the CBI inquiry the minister has ordered.
His party colleague Balbir Punj asked Antony why he did nothing after
the army chief's complaint to him even when he claimed that he had taken
action even on anonymous complaints.
Rangarajan asked the minister why he did not not pursue the matter
himself after the army chief had brought the matter to his notice. "Why
he (Antony) took the statement of the General so casually," he asked.
Antony, who at the outset said, "I will say truth, nothing but the
truth" ended the impromptu debate saying, "I am telling you the truth
that has happened."
Antony said he preferred cancelling even major procurement deals on the
issue of probity even as it invited criticism from some of his
colleagues that he was delaying modernising of the forces and delaying
He said that soon after he had taken over as Defence Minister, he had
made it clear that he won't tolerate any corruption and will go to the
extent of cancellation of the contract if any corruption surfaces in the
procurement at any stage.
Antony said the party leadership wanted him in the job as the Defence Ministry was "tough" and "controversial".
Enunciating the steps taken by him against corruption, he said this was
for the first time in the history of India that such a large number of
CBI probes were ordered in matters related to defence.
"Many CBI inquiries on land scams have been ordered....A decision of
blacklisting six companies including four foreign - one Russian, one
Italian, one German and one from Singapore. These have been been
blacklisted for ten years," he said.
Follow us on Twitter
for all updates, like us on Facebook
for important and fun stuff
© Copyright PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of any PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
|Post a Comment
|Share your thoughts
|You are not logged in, please