New Delhi, Feb. 14: The BJP seems determined to hammer on at the helicopter “scam” and the “rape” allegations against P.J. Kurien, regardless of the Congress’s tactic to turn the tables and dull the edge of the Opposition campaign.
The government’s “fact sheet” on the chopper deal traced its genesis to the rule of the BJP-led NDA. It claimed Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s national security adviser Brajesh Mishra had tweaked the flying criterion and, by implication, bolstered the claim of the chopper maker, Italian firm Finmeccanica.
But BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman debunked the “facts”. “Okay, assuming the NDA is responsible for every scam in the UPA regime, then why didn’t the government, in its two tenures, order a prompt investigation into the NDA’s role instead of waking up to it after the charges surfaced? It is established that in this (helicopter) case, the payoffs were (allegedly) made between 2006 and 2010. The relevant questions are who gave the order and who signed the deal.”
Asked about Mishra’s purported role, Nirmala refused comment.
But BJP veteran, Jaswant Singh, a former army man, added a twist to the case by defending former air chief S.P. Tyagi— in the eye of the chopper controversy—and saying “wild” allegations were not in the interest of the air force or the country.
Jaswant admitted to a TV channel that the parameters for the purchase of the choppers were changed under Mishra’s direction. But he caveated his submission with the statement that Mishra’s objective was to avoid a “single vendor” situation.
On the rape charge against Kurien, the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman, the BJP had on Tuesday demanded his resignation after vacillating for weeks.
Unconfirmed reports claimed the reason for the delay was that Arun Jaitley, the Opposition leader in the Upper House, had several years ago defended Kurien in a defamation case that tangentially impinged on the rape charges.
But spokesperson Nirmala denied any “conflict of interest”. She said Jaitley’s legal engagement predated his appointment as Opposition leader (he has since left his practice). “The BJP’s stand is very clear, we want Kurien to step down. It’s a party decision of which Jaitley is a part and parcel.”
Kurien had yesterday claimed that Jaitley was “convinced” of his “innocence” but conceded he had not spoken to him recently.