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Feb 19, 2013 at 09:15pm IST

Chopper deal: Defence Minister AK Antony may be honest, but will it help the UPA?

New Delhi: "There is no end to human greed... greedy people are working around the world so I am sad about that but I will do my duty. I am not resigning" - Defence Minister AK Antony, the integrity wall of the Congress party, made it clear that he has nothing to hide in the Rs 3700 crore chopper deal and he is not going anywhere.

But for the 72-year old Kerala politician, this is the biggest test in recent times. His political opponents in Kerala are also not asking for his resignation but are asking why did Antony not act till now. "I will not ask for Antony's resignation. But he has to explain how he was so silent for so long and why he did not act," said MA Baby.

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That is an issue the political tactician with a reputation for extreme probity will find it tough to defend. The number two in the government and a staunch Gandhi family loyalist, Antony said, "Do not question every deal. Question only when there is proof." Defence experts also admit that he is personally incorruptible but the delay in ordering the probe raises doubts.

"In his regime, there has been more cancellations and blacklisting of firms, but the probe delay is a problem," Kapil Kak, a defence expert, said.

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With the Budget Session about to start, the government expects to ride out the storm under the saintly cover of Antony's honesty. But when the allegations are about losing taxpayers' money to kickbacks, questions will be asked whether being a good man is good enough in politics and government.