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RS to discuss chopper deal on Wednesday

New Delhi: The AgustaWestland chopper deal had its echo in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday with BJP demanding a discussion on the issue and government agreeing to have it on Wednesday.

"We are ready for a discussion on the issue tomorrow," Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said after BJP insisted on an immediate discussion on the issue. Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Prakash Javadekar (BJP) said, "The whole nation is being robbed. Everyday we are reading such stories. There are reports that kickbacks to the tune of Rs 400 crore were paid...It's a shame. It is a question of nation's pride."

Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said the government should agree to a debate on a particular day, preferably on Wednesday on the issue, after which Shukla said the Defence Minister wanted some more time as more details on the issue were awaited and suggested a discussion by next week.

As BJP members including Venkaiah Naidu, Najma Heptulla and Ravi Shankar Prasad disagreed and were up on their feet demanding immediate discussion on the chopper deal and Defence Minister A K Antony's response on it, Shukla said a debate on farmers problems was slated for Wednesday on Naidu's demand and if he agreed to change it government can discuss the chopper deal on Wednesday itself.

E M S Natchiappan, who was in the chair, told members that there were other issues mentioned during Zero Hour, on which the members insisted Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rajiv Shukla to respond. "Government is ready to have a discussion on it at any point of time. I had discussed the issue with the Defence Minister, he is ready for it next week. In case the members want to take up the issue tomorrow, we are ready," Shukla said.

On this, Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "We want proper answers tomorrow." SP members also rose on their feet with Naresh Agarwal saying that they had given a notice for taking up the issue of price rise soon after the Question Hour.

"The price rise issue has not been taken up for discussion despite notice which amounts breaking of the rules and as a protest we are walking out from the House," Agarwal said and staged a walk out with SP members despite Natchiappan saying that the issue too would be taken up.

CVC may summon Defence Ministry official

The Central Vigilance Commission is likely to summon chief vigilance officer of the Defence Ministry apparently irked over delay in submitting its findings on a complaint of alleged irregularities in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal. The anti-corruption watchdog had received the complaint and sent it to the chief vigilance officer, who acts as a distant arm of the CVC, for necessary action, official sources said.

It has been over six months and the Commission is yet to get any final report from the officer. The CVO may be called in to give explanation or to appear before the Commission to explain the delay, they said. A chief vigilance officer gets a maximum of four months to finalise a report or take necessary action on graft complaints forwarded to his/her office by the probity watchdog. The sources declined to share further details including the name of complainant and other information on the complaint in the matter.

CBI has already registered a preliminary enquiry to probe alleged irregularities in the purchase of helicopters. The probe agency has named former Air Force chief S P Tyagi and 10 others including his cousins -- Julie, Docsa and Sandeep Tyagi -- in its preliminary enquiry. The Commission is following up the matter with the Defence Ministry to ensure speedy conclusion of the complaint sent to its CVO in the VVIP chopper deal, they said.

(JPN/Agencies)

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