"Something happened somewhere but we’ll get at the truth"

With the mercury in the political arena shooting up in the wake of allegations of bribery in the Rs.3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal, Defence Minister A. K. Antony on Tuesday asserted that the government would proceed as per law and “will not show any mercy to guilty people whoever they may be.’’

Pointing out that all government departments concerned, including the Defence Ministry, the Indian Air Force and the Special Protection Group, had followed all procedures and taken all precautions, Mr. Antony admitted to journalists here that “in spite of that something happened, somewhere.”

While hinting at some wrongdoing in the 2010 deal with AgustaWestland to buy 12 choppers, he said the government was awaiting details from the Italian government as well as the CBI, whose team has rushed to Italy for gathering evidence.

Mr. Antony said the Defence Ministry also initiated the process for cancellation of the deal by issuing a show-cause to AgustaWestland. Maintaining that the government had nothing to hide in the helicopter deal, Mr. Antony played down reports of his resignation.

“I will do my duty. I am now getting ready for the Parliament session. We will explain everything to Parliament. We have nothing to hide. Our hands are very clean,” he said when asked if he would quit.

Addressing a press conference at a BrahMos Aerospace function, Mr. Antony said there were “no differences” among different ministries and there was “perfect coordination” on dealing with various issues concerning the deal.

The government had so far not succeeded in getting details of investigation from the Italian government.

“We are awaiting the return of our [Defence Ministry] official and the CBI team. We will proceed as per law,” Mr. Antony said.

“The decision of the government is to get to the root of the controversy, get the truth and find out the culprits and bring them to book,” he said.

Admitting that he was upset at the alleged scam as despite his blacklisting six firms after another scandal, he was accused of slowing down modernisation of the armed forces, Mr. Antony said such an episode happened as “there was no end to human greed and still greedy people were working around the world.”

With two days to go for the crucial budget session of Parliament, the government said it was ready for any sort of investigation into the AgustaWestland helicopter deal, including one by a Joint Parliamentary Committee.