“Truck from Jabalpur factory cost Rs. 30 lakh, Tatra's was Rs. 65 lakh”
Defence Minister A.K. Antony faced further embarrassment on Monday with the BJP producing a letter written to the Minister almost four years ago by one of its MPs questioning the rationale behind the Tatra truck deal.
The party's Jabalpur MP, Rakesh Singh, sought a probe into the deal in May 2008 and the Minister in his response had promised that he would look into the issue.
After the controversy on the deal broke out, a section of the media carried reports that Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had also sought a review of the deal.
The main contention of the BJP MP was that the government went ahead with the Tatra deal though the defence factory in Jabalpur had demonstrated conclusively its capability to manufacture superior High Mobility Vehicles.
At a news conference here on Monday, Mr. Singh said that while the truck manufactured by the Jabalpur factory was priced at Rs. 30 lakh, the Defence Ministry bought the Tatra truck at Rs. 65 lakh.
The BJP parliamentarian said that when he did not hear from the Minister, the issue was raised once again in the Lok Sabha during zero hour.
In an exclusive interview with The Hindu recently, Army Chief Gen. V.K. Singh had said he was offered a bribe of Rs. 14 crore by a retired Army officer to clear the purchase of Tatra trucks. The sensational disclosure led to the disruption of Parliament .
“PM should explain”
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar, who was present at the press conference, said the Defence Minister could not argue that the issue was not brought to his notice earlier. Mr. Javadekar wondered if the Minister was “under pressure” at that time and sought an explanation from the Prime Minister.
“What prompted Mr. Antony to become inactive on this issue? Whose pressure was it? At whose behest were these sudden changes in procurement criteria made? The government owes an explanation. The Prime Minister owes an explanation.”
Keywords: Ravi Rishi, Vectra Group, Tatra trucks, Tatra-BEML deal, defence procurement scam, Gen. V.K. Singh, Army Chief bribe charge, Indian Army, Army bribery case, Army corruption, CBI probe, Tejinder Singh