Can’t blame former IAF chief in chopper deal: Jaswant Singh


New Delhi : BJP leader Jaswant Singh Thursday came out in support of former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief S.P. Tyagi, against whom charges have been made in the $750 million AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, and demanded a quick and thorough probe to ascertain the truth.

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“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 (retd) Tyagi himself is saying, the probe should be held early. Why don’t you agree to his suggestion,” said Singh, a former defence minister.

Jaswant Singh’s remarks came at a time when his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is targeting the government on the VVIP chopper deal and comparing the scandal to Bofors scam of the late 1980s.

“I am pained and sad that the accused in this is an Italian company. It seems that we have forgotten them. What we are focusing on is only what did the (IAF) chief do. The Air Chief Marshal is a distinguished retired officer. We should not casually denigrate these higher officers of the armed forces,” he said.

Singh, however, accused the defence ministry of sitting over the matter, after the Italian investigators had indicated corruption in the deal.

“…a damage to decision-making by such programmes being hidden with corruption. I find the government’s response tardy and unsatisfactory… certainly not answering the need of the hour,” he said.

“We need an expeditious and fair probe. Don’t rush to conclusions and denigrate the former air force chief. A thorough probe must be conducted into the entire matter so that all hidden facts are cleared and the truth comes out,” he added.

Meanwhile, former IAF chief Tyagi denied any wrongdoing after a preliminary inquiry report filed by prosecutors in Italy Tuesday sought to link him to the corruption charges.

The Indian defence ministry Tuesday ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the deal for 12 VVIP AgustaWestland helicopters for IAF.