New Delhi:  In further friction over Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh's disclosure that he was offered a bribe to allow sub-standard Tatra trucks, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday demanded the resignation of Defence Minister A.K. Antony but the Congress dismissed it as perverse.

Raising the issue in the Rajya Sabha, BJP MP Prakash Javadekar asked whether the minister was patronising corruption as no action has been taken against anybody though a probe was ordered two years ago. The BJP MP said the defence minister insisted that he had sought a written statement on the bribe offer by the Army chief.

"This was a sensitive matter but he chose to remain silent," he said."If the probe in Tatra trucks is continuing from 2009 to 2011, if it is not completed in two years, then this government and this Defence Minister are trying to cover up corruption. If you are patronising corruption, you have no right to remain in power. The Defence Minister should resign," Javadekar said.

The MP also raised the issue of a letter reportedly written by Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to Antony and said the minister took no action even when his colleague sought a probe. "Is this the efficiency and commitment to fight corruption," Javadekar asked.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said in response that the government was trying to create instability. "This demand shows the distorted and perverse extremes to which the BJP can go to create instability and sensationalism. No objective or reasonable party or individual could have made such a demand," Singhvi said. "Such negativism will convert India into a banana republic," he said.

Gen. V.K. Singh had alleged that former Defence Intelligence Agency chief Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh had offered him a Rs.14 crore bribe to clear an order for 600 Tatra trucks for the Army.
The issue has got further complicated with reports that Azad had written to Antony on  behalf of Congress president Sonia Gandhi to take necessary action on a complaint about Tatra trucks by Congress leader from Karnataka D Hanumanthappa.

The letter said that defence public sector unit Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) chief had placed an order worth Rs.6,000 crore for Tatra trucks from a UK agent and not from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in violation of defence procurement guidelines.