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Feb 13, 2013, 07.24 PM IST | Source: PTI

Left parties demand scrapping of Italian chopper deal

Left parties demand scrapping of Italian chopper deal

New Delhi, Feb 13 (PTI) Left parties today demanded scrapping of the Rs 3,600 crore contract for VVIP choppers in the wake of bribery charges, accusing the UPA government of failing to check "high-level corruption" in defence deals in the past eight years. "The contract should be cancelled. There will be no harm if the helicopters for VVIPs come a little late. No one will be affected," CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat told reporters here. CPI Secretary D Raja sought scrapping of the contract, saying Defence Minister A K Antony has himself stated that companies are liable to be prosecuted and blacklisted for their lapses. CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury also demanded an independent and urgent probe into the matter. "It should not be dragged on for years. We are definitely going to raise the issue in the Budget Session and the Defence Minister will have to answer in Parliament," he said. In a statement, the CPI(M) Politburo said the UPA government has "failed to check high-level corruption in defence contracts in the past eight years of its tenure. The helicopter deal is the latest instance." Maintaining that the contract "should be cancelled", it sought the supervision of the CBI investigations by the Supreme Court as "only then the people will have the confidence that we will get to the bottom of this affair." "It is clear that the UPA government has failed to check high-level corruption in defence contracts in the past eight years of its tenure. The helicopter deal is the latest," the CPI(M) said, adding that the arrest of the CEO of Italian firm Finmeccanica "has exposed the massive corruption" in the contract for 12 Augusta-Westland helicopters. Karat also accused the government of not doing anything for the past few months even when the entire report of the probe by the Italian authorities "has been reported in the media. Yet the UPA government seeks to take shelter behind this specious reason that no specific information has been received so far from the governments concerned - the UK and Italy." PTI ARC SC

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