Former Defence Minister AK Antony seems to have unabashedly lied about the AgustaWestland deal. Even as significant progress has been made into the AgustaWestland scam after the extradition of middleman Christian Michel and the Enforcement Directorate has claimed in a Delhi court that the said middleman has named former Congress president Sonia Gandhi during the investigation, AK Antony has come out trying to defend the Nehru-Gandhi family. He has accused the BJP and the centre of spreading lies and has also of trying to manufacture “something out of nothing”. Antony said, “they are misusing the agencies to manufacture lies.”
Antony also claimed that neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi had shown any interest in the deal during UPA’s tenure. He added, “AugustaWestland was selected after first technical evaluation by a team of officials. They selected two companies — American company and AgustaWestland. A field evaluation was conducted by officials of Air Force, SPG and Defence Ministry. They recommended AugustaWestland. It was not a political decision but a purely professional recommendation.”
Not only this, but Antony also tried taking a high moral ground and said that the centre had acted the moment a report of corruption had come from Italy. He said, “I ordered a CBI enquiry. We took an unusual decision to fight this case in Italy against AugustaWestland. We joined the case as an interested party. We won the case and we got the entire money we gave to AgustaWestland.” Antony also went on to claim that the UPA had blacklisted AugustaWestland but the Modi government did not take any step against the said company.
Antony’s claim that the centre and the BJP are trying to manufacture “something out of nothing,” is at great variance with what he had said in 2013 when he was the defence minister. At that time he had said, “Yes, corruption has taken place in the helicopter deal and bribes have been taken. The CBI is pursuing the case very vigorously.” AK Antony had also said that some people seem to have taken bribes in the Rs. 3,700 crore helicopter deal and had asserted that the guilty would be punished. He had stated, “I have a feeling that somebody has taken money in the helicopter deal. CBI investigations in the issue are in a crucial stage now and I don’t want to comment more on it.”
One cannot help but wonder about the sharp change in Antony’s opinion. In 2013, he looked almost sure that bribes had been taken and had also asserted that the guilty would be brought to justice. However, now that Christian Michel has named an individual, Antony’s views have changed upside down. The defence minister is now claiming that the centre and the BJP are trying to manufacture “something out of nothing”. It seems that the sudden change in Antony’s opinion has a solid reason behind it. It is clear that political considerations have taken over his personal opinions and given the need of deflecting the blame from the Gandhis compelled a sycophant to change his views in an abrupt manner.
It is not for the first time that Antony has been exposed lying through his teeth about the AgustaWestland deal. Earlier, Union Finance Minister had exposed him when Antony claimed that the UPA government had blacklisted AugustaWestland. In May 2016, Jaitley had said the theory that the AgustaWestland was blacklisted during the UPA rule and it was lifted by NDA was a “figment of imagination”. Jaitley disputed the statement of former Defence Minister AK Antony said that the UPA regime had blacklisted AgustaWestland after the bribe issue came out regarding the chopper deal. Now, Antony has been caught lying again. This stands testimony to the fact that the Congress can go to any extent when it comes to the welfare of its first family.