AgustaWestland issue: Subramanian Swamy to make fresh revelations, Congress plans counter offensive
Congress may depute former defence minister AK Antony or even former prime minister Manmohan Singh to counter charges from the Treasury benches.
BJP leaders Bhupendra Yadav and Subramanian Swamy had given notices for holding a Short Duration Discussion on the AgustaWestland issue. While Swamy has already caused enough discomfort in the Congress camp with his attack on two previous occasions, sources said defence minister Manohar Parrikar who will reply to the debate is also going to make some revelations before the House.
Congress members were furious when Swamy had named their party president Sonia Gandhi while speaking on the issue in the Rajya Sabha last week.
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Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad had later alleged in the House that Swamy — whom he referred to as a "gift of the BJP" — did not know the difference between "street words and Parliament words." BJP also wants to "expose" the Congress claim — later withdrawn — that the erstwhile UPA government had blacklisted AgustaWestland International Limited (AWIL).
With the first family of Congress in the line of fire in the chopper deal, the principal opposition went into a huddle on Tuesday evening at the residence of Sonia Gandhi to discuss its strategy in Parliament. Antony, who was busy campaigning in Kerala, flew in to attend the meeting. He will be speaking on behalf of the Congress during the debate.
The Congress will also field Azad, deputy leader of the party in Rajya Sabha, Anand Sharma, and may even ask former PM Manmohan Singh to defend the party during the debate. Senior leader Digvijaya Singh is also a probable speaker if time permits.
Congress has asked for a similar debate in the Lok Sabha in the coming week. The Trinamool Congress is also targeting the Congress and will again be attacking the party during the debate.
It would be interesting to watch the JD(U) stand as the party, now supporting the Congress, had slammed the Grand Old Party in 2013. When the scam first came to light in February 2013, then defence minister AK Antony had informed Parliament that CBI has lodged a Preliminary Enquiry into the case. He further said 11 persons, including former Air Chief SP Tyagi, have been named in the case. Antony had also announced that the government is ready to form a 30-member JPC, but the Opposition did not agree to the proposal.