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Govt denies split over chopper deal, Antony says no need for him to resign

CNN-IBN
Feb 19, 2013 at 01:29pm IST

New Delhi: After External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, Defence Minister AK Antony also denied any differences within the government over the AgustaWestland chopper deal. "There is no question of lack of co-ordination with the MEA," Antony said.

He also said that a probe into the deal was on and action will be taken and there was no need for him to resign as demanded by the Opposition. "If in any deal, any foul play is found out, we will act. Now we have only reports. Unless there is some kind of evidence, we cannot act. The matter is with the Italian court and it is not with us, so we have to get the details through them," Antony said.

ALSO SEE Khurshid denies differences in UPA on scrapping Italian chopper deal

He also said the government had nothing to hide and was transparent. "I will do my duty, we have nothing to hide. I assure you that as far as our government is concerned, we are into integrity and transparency. So if any malpractice is found in any deal at any stage, we will go to any extent to punish," Antony said.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had denied any differences within the government on the question of scrapping the AgustaWestland deal. "I have not expressed any reservation at all. I only said whatever decision taken has to be a collective decision," Khurshid said.

ALSO SEE CBI team leaves for Italy to probe AgustaWestland chopper deal

"I don't think we should take any decision based on media reports. We should not be pressured by anything. We have nothing to hide. It is outrightly objective procedure that has been followed. Keeping all that in mind, the Defence Ministry will recommend what it thinks is the appropriate decision," Khurshid added.

Meanwhile, the BJP hit out at the Congress saying leaders within the party were contradicting each other. "Till yesterday, we heard the Defence Minister saying we will scrap the deal, he accepts that kickback was taken. Now External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid saying that it has to be discussed in CCS. There is clear contradiction. Congress would have to answer a lot of questions in Parliament," BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

Meanwhile, a Central Bureau of Investigation team has left for Italy to probe the allegations of kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper deal. The team is expected to meet Italian prosecutors to ascertain details of the case.

Sources have told CNN-IBN that having exhausted diplomatic options, India is hiring a lawyer in Milan to explore the legal route to extract information from Italy as recommended by the embassy in Rome.

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