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Feb 27, 2013 at 09:00am IST

Opposition looks to corner UPA as Rajya Sabha debates AgustaWestland chopper deal today

New Delhi: The AgustaWestland chopper deal will be debated in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday after the BJP's demand for a discussion. The BJP is expected to raise the issue giving the Opposition the chance to corner the UPA on the tainted chopper deal.

The Opposition has alleged that the UPA had bent rules and flouted norms to give a go-ahead to AugustaWestland VVIP choppers. However, the government has defended itself saying the rules were changed by the NDA regime in 2003.

The Opposition has demanded a probe monitored by the Supreme Court and not a JPC offered by the government. This comes even as the BJP will hold its first Parliamentary meet in this Budget Session on Wednesday.

"We are ready for a discussion on the issue tomorrow," Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said after the BJP insisted on an immediate discussion on the issue. Raising the issue during Zero Hour, BJP leader Prakash Javadekar 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 AK 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, the government can discuss the chopper

deal on Wednesday itself.

EMS 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."

With Additional Inputs from PTI