Admits tender specifications were changed during NDA rule in 1983
At a time when his party is targeting the UPA government for alleged irregularities in the VVIP chopper deal with an Italian defence firm, senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh, who was Defence Minister in the Vajpayee government, has damned the tendency of making wild allegations in defence matters.
Mr. Singh also conceded that the parameters for the helicopter the Indian Air Force was looking for were tweaked in 2003 during the NDA regime.
On fingers being pointed at the beleaguered Air Chief Marshal (retired) S.P. Tyagi in the deal with Finmeccanica, he said.
“We should not make wild allegations against a former Air Chief. It is not in the interest of both the Air Force and the country. The probe is on. As Air Chief Marshal [retired] Tyagi himself is saying, the probe should be held early. Why don’t you agree to his suggestion? We should not make allegations against each other till the truth is known.”
Mr Singh admitted that tender specifications were changed during the NDA rule. “Yes, what he has said is true,” he replied when asked about Air Chief Marshal Tyagi’s comment to this effect.
Mr. Singh’s remark is significant as the BJP has maintained that the former Air Force chief’s statement should be taken with a pinch of salt as he is “under a cloud.”
On the tweaking of parameters for the helicopter, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said the air ceiling was lowered from 18,000 to 15,000 feet to “bring in more competitive bidders instead of restricting it to a single vendor.” Only one company could cater for the need of flying at 18,000 ft, she said.
On the probe into the alleged kickbacks in the VVIP helicopters deal, the BJP demanded that it be conducted under supervision of the Supreme Court.
“The probe will be completed in a time-bound manner and will show results only if it is monitored by the Supreme Court. Otherwise there will be a cover-up,” said another spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.