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Governors on quiz list

MK Narayanan

New Delhi, Jan. 21: The Central Bureau of Investigation wants to question Bengal governor M.K. Narayanan and Goa governor B.V. Wanchoo in connection with the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal that has since been scrapped.

The agency has sought the advice of the law ministry before determining whether it can record the statements of the two governors who hold constitutional posts.

Narayanan was the national security adviser and Wanchoo the director of the Special Protection Group in 2005 when the defence secretary was authorised to pursue the contract to go ahead with a change in the procurement proposal for 12 helicopters that were being purchased to fly the President, Prime Minister and other dignitaries. President Pranab Mukherjee was the defence minister at that time.

The staff qualitative requirements — specifications for the helicopter — were finalised by the Indian Air Force in consultation with the SPG that is in charge of the Prime Minister’s security.

The helicopters were to be part of the IAF’s headquarters communications squadron. The contract for the 12 AW101 helicopters that were selected was cancelled by defence minister A.K. Antony on January 1 this year after investigations in Italy pointed to the use of agents (middlemen) in swinging the contract.

The CBI has already named a former IAF head, Air Chief Marshal (retired) S.P. Tyagi, and three of his cousins among 13 suspects in its first information report.

AgustaWestland, a company based in the UK and held by the Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica, delivered three of the 12 helicopters in December 2012.

The IAF is barely able to fly them because of shortage of spares. It has asked the defence ministry what to do with the helicopters after the cancellation of the contract. The company has sought arbitration in the case.