July 23, 2019
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End of deception
A K Antony is fully incompetent and should be removed as RM for fair probe

Disgraced Defence Minister A K Antony is a great disaster for the country and totally incompetent for the post of RM. This is not new but how Antony, a political opportunist, ran the MoD all these nine years is a surprise. During his tenure, the Congress Party, the Family and the cronies of ‘Yuvraj’ orchestrated a wave of defence scams. As a result, Indian armed forces are today a demoralized lot like the country itself. India has slipped to the bottom under the misrule of UPA and the able leadership of another ‘Mr Clean’-Dr Manmohan Singh. The fraudulent act of Antony in finalizing defence deals and several lies he fed to the Parliament and the people of India should be tried under treason. Antony, who has taken the oath to serve this country and abide by rule of law, has willfully and consciously let down a nation of billion plus population. Yet, his loyalty to the Family, which has received more than half of the bribes in VVIP chopper case, is unflinching. In fact, Antony has gradually destroyed India’s defence preparedness by allowing the cronies of ‘Yuvraj’ to loot the MoD. Thus, nothing can be worst than having this man as India’s RM. In contrary, Antony’s standing, with the help of a longest serving PRO and bunch of so-called defence correspondents looking for favors, has gone up as he has helped the Family to make money, in return both his wife and son have also risen. All this is part of a grand strategy. For civilian loot, the Congress Party has appointed Dr Singh, for defence loot, the party has brought Antony. Indeed, both of them will be remembered as ‘the duo of worst performers’. Adhering to true Congress culture of denial and brave face, Antony shamelessly remains the Defence Minister.

It is difficult to say whether Defence Minister A K Antony is using Congress Party to retain his ministerial portfolio or the Congress Party has been using the former’s pseudo ‘honesty’ image to play havoc with defence deals and overall defence preparedness of India.

In either situation, it is the Indian armed forces which have been suffering disastrously, leading to lack of war preparedness to defend India’s national security interests particularly at a time when the country is facing dual front threat.

Defence Minister A K Antony is not only incompetent in defence matters having zero understanding of strategic issues, he is equally responsible for large scale corruption in Ministry of Defence (MoD) due to his power hungry attitude.

When Indian Navy Chief owning moral responsibility had tendered his resignation, Antony is shamelessly giving clarifications which are total lies. For example, the Defence Minister, known as RM in MoD circle, says he is sad that IN chief has resigned and it is the same minister who had reportedly asked IN Chief to quit.    

Antony is an old master in political duplicity. In fact, Antony feels that higher IN accident rates point a finger towards incompetence of naval establishment but he has carefully forgotten that his own incompetence and political shrewdness have cost the nation billions of dollars, apart from wasting away crucial time.

Thus, the next government must order a probe against the Defence Minister and first the UPA allies must ask him to resign immediately to open the way for free and fair probe into several defence deals.

As long as the RM is in power, nothing will happen as he is the party to most corruption cases whether directly or indirectly.

Antony promoted corruption in a highly sophisticated manner where he remains fraudulently honest – a cover he has created by his own action and with the help of some select cronies as well as media dalals, in reality he is the main culprit in making this great disaster afflicting the MoD.

Antony has created a new political theory of ‘barter game’ about how to abuse power and misuse official position while fooling the people about with an image of pseudo honesty and hiding incompetence.

He is not only a liability for the nation but a great disaster for the MoD who has demoralized the morale of the armed forces. Today, his integrity is doubtful and his selfish attitude towards power is proven beyond sense of reasoning.

STRATEGIC AFFAIRS, may be the first and perhaps only defence publication, which has questioned Antony’s elevation into MoD right from the beginning and now it has been proved beyond doubts that how this man has jeopardized India’s national defence while working for the Family.

Antony will go down in the history as most incompetent Defence Minister India ever had in its independent history.

Pending mega deals

•    126 MMRCA aircraft
•    197 Light Utility Helicopters
•    Project 75-I
•    M777 ultra light howitzers
•    Attack helicopters

Over two dozens of high value defence scams have happened and several crucial tenders have gone for retendering during his tenure, it however clearly establishes that he is not fit for this post.

Antony’s incompetence was known to Congress Party. But the Congress wanted to use his pseudo honesty as a brand to loot MoD and spread corruption. Now Antony is also using his utility for the party and the dynasty. Thus, despite proving to be a worst performer he remains as RM.

Antony is more loyal to the dynasty than India. His parochial view of the world is just bringing a political theory called ‘barter game’. This means a barter system can ensure each other’s interests safely but none will be directly accountable for while each will ripe the benefits to the maximum.  

While the Yuvraj and his cronies looted the Indian MoD, it was Antony who signed all the letters, recommendations and proposals and in reward, the Family, the largest recipients of Agusta money, allowed him to continue in power despite Antony being proved as a total disaster.

Agusta case

With the recent revelations and developments in the VVIP helicopter scam, things are becoming clearer that how the Indian MoD truly functions and how the so called ‘honest’ RM has turned this ministry as a safe haven for corruption and play ground of dalals.

The Defence Minister has introduced a well carved out corrupt system in the MoD while maintaining his honest image. He is always hiding under the saga of honesty but with the revelations in the recent VVIP helicopter scam, which was initially highlighted by the Italian court, his real face is coming out.

After many denials and finding no escape route, finally he admitted that bribe was paid in the whole deal, but one fails to understand what had stopped him admitting the same before when he signed this deal in such a hurry. Or he just wants everybody to believe that he was not at all aware of any such deal.

As RM he knew the whole Agusta scam right from the beginning but secretly collaborated with the Family and favored the cronies of Yuvraj.

It is high time that he cannot behave like an ostrich and turn away from his responsibility as RM. Though he may or may not have taken money directly in any deal, corruption has taken place under his tenure and with his full knowledge.

He, having his loyalty towards the family who made him sit in this important position, deliberately delayed the investigation process in the whole VVIP scam as he was well aware that who all made money out of this deal.

Antony has become power hungry and is not willing to resign which is hampering the overall transparent investigation process in all these scams.

When questioned by opposition, he clearly denied having any understanding of the abbreviations that came out in the revelations by the middleman that who all got bribes in India to get this VVIP deal cleared.

Anybody who has a basic knowledge of present lot of corrupt politicians working in the UPA government can easily make out the names of the beneficiaries, as it does not require any rocket science.

But one fails to understand that by hiding facts and truth in scams after scams how will he justify his so called brand honesty. He has fooled people for all these nine years under the pretence of being the most honest minister India has ever produced. Yet, the reality tells a different story.  

Fake image

Antony claims that he has the lowest assets among all the cabinet ministers and this is an indication of his honesty. But he should not forget that he cannot justify the corruption and problems in his institutional responsibility of a minister with the false personal honesty propaganda.

He says he feels bad that corruption is taking place in his ministry, but he is forgetting that it is he who gives the final nod from MoD before CCS when a deal gets cleared.

He has always maintained that the guilty should be punished but in reality he has never done anything that can be remembered, rather he has always protected the guilty.

He is politically immoral and intellectually dishonest who has completely destroyed this important ministry under his regime. He is an atheist and quite arrogant who does not believe in accepting mistakes and correcting them. He rather believes in hiding the fact and blaming others.

Antony is keen to control Kerala politics from Delhi. Thus, he religiously neglects the MoD and the needs of the armed forces. Yet, whenever he acts to expedite a defence deal it must be in the interest of his political masters - the family and cronies of the Yuvraj.

He has completely changed the definition of honesty.

In the Agusta helicopter deal, where India signed up for 12 AW101 helicopters for a price of €560 million, an Italian investigation has established that bribes amounting around  €50 million were paid to middlemen.

Though bribery was suspected as far back as in 2009, the RM did nothing. It is only when the Italians ended up arresting Finmeccanica CEO Guiseppe Orsi, then only Antony ordered an investigation that too with reluctance.

The way in which the payment was cleared and made in this deal is also surprising. In other deals normally 45-60 days is the limit but the VVIP helicopter deal got cleared in a record time of three days.

Even there are allegations that his personal secretary threatened defence finance officials of dire consequences if the payment is not cleared immediately.

Another Congress loyalist, who has also once won election on Congress ticket, was putting pressure on the then Home Minister who in return pressurized Antony to clear the things on an urgent basis.

Is it possible for any honest minister not to be aware of this sort of dealing when he and his staff is an important party to it?

Now after the UPA Chairperson’s name has surfaced as the main driving force behind the VVIP helicopter deal, Antony is finding it difficult to hide his face and prove his extreme loyalty.

Though he has turned his back on many scams in the defence deals in earlier occasions, this time he is feeling the heat.

Finmeccanica still in race  

•    Multi role helicopters
•    Naval utility helicopters
•    Reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters for the army and the IAF
•    Light utility helicopters
•    Replacement of Avro transport aircraft for IAF

Earlier, before cancelling the deal, in Parliament A K Antony gave a clean chit to his ministry in the controversial deal with Italian firm AgustaWestland, for supplying 12 VVIP helicopters, saying it had followed all procurement processes in a transparent and meticulous manner.

Antony said the Service Qualitative Requirements were so formulated that they meet the essential requirements for VVIP transportation in Indian conditions, while ensuring that the requirements were adequately broad-based to evoke a multi-vendor response.

The UPA government also initially denied all allegations and claimed it has ‘nothing to hide’ and that ‘our track record is not cover up’. Now one fine morning it has been found all were paid and all were lying.  

Later, with the help of Italian investigations, it came out that everybody from top leaders, politicians, bureaucrats to service officials were paid their share in the form of bribe and all the service requirements were so formulated that it could only accommodate AgustaWestalnd as the single vendor who is capable to meet the modified requirements.

Interestingly, the Air Force officials were paid handsome money just to ensure that the competitors of AgustaWestland were safely sidelined and kicked out of the whole deal so as to make the Agusta as the single vendor meeting all the requirements of the force.

It is also alleged that three successive Air Chiefs were paid and entertained in this deal to ensure smooth selection of AgustaWestland chopper. Former IAF chief ACM S P Tyagi was just made a scapegoat, which is an old tactics used by Congress Party.

Their idea was since ACM Tyagi has already been caught, the entire case will now rest on one person that will help others to escape.

This VVIP helicopter deal has exposed how the MoD functions and highlighted loopholes in defence acquisition process.

Since the Bofors scandal, the country’s inability to evolve a transparent and credible foreign defence procurement mechanism has hurt the armed forces.

Further blacklisting of foreign defence firms and cancellation of contracts midway have meant that the armed forces are forced to deal with dubious contractors for spare parts and maintenance issues.

This situation is further compounded by the fact that the guilty in corrupt defence deals almost never gets punished.

Bank guarantee

In the VVIP helicopter deal, MoD has cancelled the deal and also sidelined the whole Finmeccanica Group from participating in the recently concluded Defexpo 2014.

However, the MoD is also assuring that they will encash the bank guarantee and recover the money. On surface it sounds good but, as the beneficiaries of this deal are the high profile people of this country, the reality is different.

As the Anglo-Italian company had deposited around 350 million euros as bank guarantee in three different foreign banks and a small amount in State Bank of India, Indian MoD is finding it difficult to encash the full amount of bank guarantee.

After India scrapped the whole deal, the company had approached the court in Italy to put a stay on India’s move to encash the bank guarantee deposited in the Italian banks.

Though India has been able to encash a guarantee of over Rs 250 crore deposited by AgustaWestland in SBI, it is now preparing to file an appeal against an Italian court’s stay on its move to encash another guarantee deposited in Italian banks.

India has been working on procedures to claim more than 650 million euros from the company in the form of seizure of bank guarantees and imposing penalties.

STRATEGIC AFFAIRS from the very early days doubted the whole process of purchasing VVIP chopper in such a speedy manner and wrote extensively about it.

The VVIP helicopter contract had got into trouble, just three months after AgustaWestland had delivered three choppers, when an Italian court got the firm’s former CEO Giuseppe Orsi arrested in an investigation into allegations of corruption in overseas deals, including the Indian contract.

But the embarrassment for the MoD came with the revelations made by one of the middleman Guido Hashcke during his investigation by the Italian authorities.

Initially Antony denied any wrong doing or allegations of kickbacks paid in the VVIP deal but with more and more truth coming out in Italian court, his honesty veil is now slowly uncovering.

Unfolding scam

The report produced during investigations in Italy shows in detail how money was given on a monthly basis using front companies like IDS Tunisia in which IDS Infotech had made investments.

From February 2010 to December 2010, nearly €510,000 was transferred every month under the garb of what seems like bogus software exports.

The route was used by the intermediaries or middlemen of Finmeccanica. The IDS connection is the common thread through the trail of kickbacks.

Aeromatrix also figures in the taped conversations of suspects in Italy. Among its directors were Swiss residents Guido Ralph Haschke and Ferdinando Carlo Valentino Gerosa, who reportedly acted as middlemen for AgustaWestland and helped in swinging the chopper deal from India.

Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa (both middlemen) managed to send 5.6 million euros through Mohali-based IDS Infotech and Chandigarh-based Aeromatrix Info Solutions Private Ltd to India and kept the remaining amount of about 24.30 million euros received from AgustaWestland with them in the account of IDS Tunisia.

The Italian prosecutor who carried out the preliminary inquiry in Milan has alleged that the CEO of Finmeccanica, the parent company of the UK-based AgustaWestland, had used services of middlemen to bribe Indian officials.

RM sat on MI-10 report

A K Antony is not just intellectually dishonest but also incompetent enough as he is unwilling to act on information coming to him about some discrepancies in defence deals.

When Military Intelligence-10 in 2011 reported about bribery being paid in MoD deals, Anotny did not act at all and sat on the report for months.

When MI-10 reported second time that some foreigners are trying to contact high level politicians in MoD and official of Army, under pressure he allegedly referred the case to Naresh Chandra committee at that time for an opinion.

But till date no action has been taken and one fails to understand what was the outcome of the MI-10 report.

Anotny has maintained a reputation for indecisiveness and caution and he has tamely followed his bureaucracy to block the significant proposals made by the Naresh Chandra task force on defence reform.

The VIP helicopter scam represents only the tip of the iceberg of the corruption that continues to dodge Indian defence deals.

The report named the three Tyagi brothers-Julie, Docsa and Sandeep, cousins of the former Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi- as intermediaries in corruption.

It named Haschke and Gerosa and Christian Michel as intermediaries in the conclusion of agreements and supervisors to provide the resources needed to pay the corrupt Indian officials.

The Italian charge sheet claimed that changes in technical requirements favored AgustaWestland in the bidding process.

The Italian charge sheet gives details of interrogations of the middlemen and also relies on intercepted conversations in accordance with the Italian rules and legal provisions to elaborate upon the activities of Finmeccanica, nexus between the middlemen and their detailed knowledge about procurement of 12 AgustaWestland 101 helicopters by the Indian MoD.

This whole issue has also provoked a row in Italy after its former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, said bribes were an inevitable part of doing business in the developing world.

“Bribes are a phenomenon that exists and it is useless to deny the existence of these necessary situations. These are not crimes. We are talking about paying a commission to someone in that country. Why, because those are the rules in that country,” said Berlusconi in an interview.

According to the public prosecutor’s interrogations of Haschke and Lorenzo Borgogni, a former head of Finmeccanica’s external relations department, Orsi had cut Michel into the deal to the dismay of two other middlemen, Ralph Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, whose company was based in Tunis.

As well as allegedly bribing members of the Tyagi family, Haschke and Gerosa allegedly managed to alter the terms of the tender from the Indian government and to tilt a flight test in Agusta Westland’s favour.

For its part, AgustaWestland allegedly covered its payments to the middlemen using invoices for fictitious engineering services. Though all through this the Indian MoD denied procurement procedures had been manipulated to allow AgustaWestland to win the contract.

Changing specifications

According to prosecution documents, specifications in the helicopter tender were crafted to suit the AW101, including the lowering of the operational altitude from 18,000 feet to 15,000 feet.

A requirement for flying after losing power in an engine was also allegedly added to favor the AW101, the only competitor with three engines.

The Indian MoD’s fact-sheet said that the first Request for Proposal was issued in March 2002 mandating a requirement of 6,000 metre (18,000 feet) flying altitude for selection of the chopper.

This requirement made it clear that AgustaWestland could not participate in the deal. However, in a meeting convened by the Principal Secretary to PM in 2003, the principal secretary observed that his main concern was that the framing of the mandatory requirements has led us effectively into a single vendor situation.

The Defence Ministry fact-sheet states that in a meeting convened by the then NSA, it was also noted that the President and the Prime Minister have rarely made visits to places involving flying at an altitude beyond 4500 metres and therefore it was decided to make the mandatory requirement for operational altitude 4500 meters.

The accusations in this deal were first made by former Finmeccanica executive Lorenzo Borgogni after he was sacked by Orsi for ethical violations following Orsi’s appointment as Finmeccanica CEO in 2011. Prosecutors then built their evidence on the strength of interviews, seized documents and wiretaps.

Finmeccanica and Giuseppe Orsi came under increasing public pressure as corruption probes into the firms’ foreign sales continue to expand.

Finmeccanica has endured years of scandal related to allegations of kickbacks, management impropriety and other problems connected to Orsi’s predecessor as CEO, Pierfrancesco Guarguaglini, and the political leadership of Italy’s former Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

The allegations originated with Lorenzo Borgogni, a former external relations manager at Finmeccanica who was fired in 2011 after Orsi became CEO and chairman.

Borgogni, who admitted receiving payments worth 5.6 million euros from Finmeccanica supplier firms which was deemed in violation of company ethics, had worked alongside Guarguaglini, who stepped down as CEO in 2011amid a corruption probe focused on Selex Sistemi Integrati, another Finmeccanica unit that had been headed by Guarguaglini’s wife.

In Italy, the Orsi’s arrest is particularly politically sensitive because the Italian state owns slightly more than 30 per cent of the defence company, making it the single largest shareholder.

Family’s involvement


Recently Italian prosecutors had presented a budget sheet drawn up by two middlemen mentioning the list of initials of Indian politicians and designations of bureaucrats and IAF officers who allegedly had to be “handled” to fix the deal.

The document is a note Swiss businessman Guido Haschke claimed he wrote during a meeting with British middleman Christian Michel in 2008.

Under the heading ‘POL’ -Haschke has explained in court this referred to Indian politicians-there is a reference to ‘AP’ against which ‘3 million euro’ has been listed.

The other is ‘FAM’-explained by Italian investigators in other documents as ‘Family’-against which ‘15/16 million euro’ has been listed.

The document also lists key posts in the MoD by references like DS, JS AIR, AFA, DG Acquisitions as well as CVC (chief vigilance commissioner) and auditor general under the head BUR (bureaucrats), with 8.5 million being budgeted for them.

During the ongoing corruption trial in an Italian court, the prosecutors have now presented a note written in March 2008 by middleman Christian Michel to Peter Hulett, the then India head of AgustaWestland and currently the Director of Peter Hulett Ltd, a company which offers support to the creation of business development strategies for new sectors, particularly in the export market.

BHC: Hub of middlemen

The VVIP helicopter scam has also exposed the way British High Commission (BHC) in New Delhi is operating. The BHC now seems to be the Eton play ground for defence middlemen.

The defence agents are using BHC clout and compound to target India’s defence market in a wrong manner. This is a clear violation of diplomatic ethics and misuse of immunity.  

Though Britain always had a history of bribing people in government around the world but with India they have a different approach which is more bold and multi dimensional.

Names of some of the former staff of BHC have also surfaced in the process of this scam of Agusta deal.

Those working in BHC’s defence section or related departments, after quitting BHC are becoming agents/heads for global defence companies working from India.

It is strange that the Government of India, being loyal to its former colonial master, provides easy visa for these kinds of characters.

Indian government has adopted a dual approach when they deal with British and other countries. Yet, in a similar condition, Indian government repatriated a staff from German embassy claiming he was having unauthorized contacts with Indian political and military establishments.

Then how come Indian government is not able to see what BHC employees are doing in Indian defence sector.

Once their tenure with BHC gets over they are becoming country heads of defence companies and start lobbying for their products, Eurofighter, Cobham etc are bright example.

Even Jackie Calcutt, a former DESO official, is now working for AgustaWestland. Chris Adams, a DESO official can be seen regularly at various Indian defence gatherings though one is not sure what kind of networking he is into.

How Britain works in arms trading is nothing new. Peter Bleach’s involvement in Purulia arms drop case is another example.

All this gives an impression that BHC has now become the Eton playground for arms dealers and Indian government, which is still proud to be part of Commonwealth Countries, is giving them a free hand.

Michel, as per the note, told Hulett that the British high commissioner in India should target Mrs Gandhi and her closest advisers to clinch the contract for the 12 AW-101 helicopters.

As Mrs Gandhi is the driving force behind the VIP, she will not fly any more in the Mi-8 (the Russian-origin helicopters the President, PM and other VVIPs currently use), says the note.

It identifies her ‘key advisers’ as Manmohan Singh, Ahmed Patel, Pranab Mukherjee, M Veerappa Moily, Oscar Fernandes, M K Narayanan and Vinay Singh.

However, Sonia is not entitled to use government helicopters. She can use VIP aircraft only when she flies with the PM, President or ministers who are officially entitled to the aircraft. This note by the British middleman has also been shared by the Italian side with the CBI team.

CBI which carried out the probe in India had named 13 individuals, including Tyagi and European middlemen Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke, in the FIR as accused, in connection with the alleged bribery.

Michel has been elusive and no investigative agency has been able to reach him. Haschke, who is facing a case in Italy for being part of a conspiracy to bribe Indian officials to ensure the AW 101 chopper was picked by the IAF, faced several questions from the Indian side and denied any irregularity.

But the Indian side did not ask Haschke to explain what AP, FAM or any of the other acronyms in the note-DS, JS AIR, AFA, DG Acquisition etc-referred to.

After all these developments UPA government scrapped the whole deal as a defensive measure. It appears that the MoD and UPA government is trying their best to influence the whole proceeding of this case in the Italy court.

The explanation of ‘FAM’ as family of Tyagi brother and ignorance towards who the ‘AP’ could be in the deal by the Haschke is very surprising and raising doubts. Is there any fixing going on between MoD, CBI and court in Italy?

In India, the anti-corruption probe into the deal is going slowly. The CBI has filed an FIR naming several Indian businessmen and former IAF Chief ACM Tyagi and his cousins. There is no indication yet that the CBI has probed the role, if any, of politicians and bureaucrats in fixing the deal.

Connection

Even the way middleman Christian Michel used to operate and travel extensively in India shows that he had deep rooted connection in the Indian government.

According to sources, Michel was in India exactly 10 days before filing of the preliminary enquiry by CBI in February 2013.

According to the documents, Michel flew in and out of India six times between January 12 and February 14, 2013. When Michel’s name was being discussed in the media in 2012, he had visited India a total of 31 times between 2011 and 2012.

The first official complaint in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal was registered in India on February 24, 2013, exactly 10 days after Michel flew out of India.

Since then, he has simply gone missing. While he travelled to India a total of 31 times between 2011 and 2012, in 2013, he kept travelling to India twice a month.

And all this took place while the government and agencies claimed to have no idea about his whereabouts.

Serious questions have now arisen in the scam. If Michel was a frequent traveler to India between 2011 and 2012, why did he suddenly fly out of India just before his name surfaced in the scam.

The travel details and overwhelming electronic evidence suggests that all the main players of the VVIP chopper kickback scandal held frequent meetings until the deal was cleared. The visits continued till 2012 when the scam was first reported in the Italian media.

Michel’s contacts are stronger especially with the Indian MoD that he has inherited from his father, Wolfgang Max Michel Richard, a British businessman who was very active in India between 80s and 90s and was close to the Congress party.

Wolfgang Michel had promoted three companies - Entera Corporation, UCM International Trading Limited and Ferro-Imports Limited. Between 1987 and 1996, Entera Corporation earned more than £2 million from India, recorded on its books as charges for engineering consultancy or industrial consultancy.

Christian Michel served as the chairman and sole director during this time. In 2004, Entera Corporation went bankrupt with more than £1.3 million in debt.

Christian Michel was barred from doing business in the UK for seven years. This is when he appears to have shifted base to Dubai, where he floated Global Services FZE.

He operates complex web of companies. Michel’s companies typically use lawyers and tax consultants as directors. They are also usually registered at law offices or addresses that appear to belong to virtual office companies.

Blame game

However, the statement of Antony, that authenticity of certain notes produced in the Italian court against Indian politicians is not proved, reflects that he is not even aware about what is happening on the ground.

If he is so sure that his officials and ministers and politicians have not taken any money in this deal, why cannot he deny all allegations as baseless, instead of putting all blame on the Finmeccanica Group and middlemen.

He needs to understand that though he may not have made any money out of it, the Finmeccanica Group did pay middlemen to pay the Indian officials.

He cannot be so innocent to merely blame the company saying that they violated the integrity pact and used middlemen. Everybody knows in India today why those middlemen were used and who all got benefitted out of it.

This government has already posted few important people involved in the VVIP scam at Constitutionally protected positions so that they cannot be questioned and more beans should not be spilled.

The then DG Acquisition (now CAG) and then Defence Secretary (now CVC) are among the privileged ones.

Other than them President Pranab Mukherjee (the then defence minister), Goa Governor Bharat Vir Wanchoo (the then head of Special Protection Group) and West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan (the then national security advisor ) – all three key decision makers who were involved in finalizing the deal AgustaWestland 101 helicopter deal - enjoy Constitutional immunity.

Wanchoo and Narayanan had participated in the meeting in 2005 that allowed key changes in the technical specifications. Their views were also considered before Indian Government signed the contract with AgustaWestland.

Antony has always maintained that he wants indigenization in the Indian defence industry and wants more active participation of private companies. But it is his defence policies which have marred the growth of India defence industry.

The DPP and all its renewed versions, which talk about more indigenization, is nothing but a farce. The Indian DPSUs are suffering from overload of work with insufficient infrastructure and facilities, and on other side the private industry is suffering due to lack of orders.

When the MoD and its corrupt officials, politicians and senior officers from armed forces are involved in making money how can one expect a country to produce hi-tech weapons systems for the military.

All the deals and tenders are so formulated that should create a single vendor situation and in the name of urgency everybody will make money out of it.

Due to this Indian defence industry is suffering as they are not given any opportunity. What all these people of UPA government and MoD have done is to issue RFPs and cancel the deal at last or take huge money for party funds and individuals and clear the deal.

Had Italian court not highlighted kickbacks in this VVIP scam, Indian MoD would have gone ahead with fulfilling of all contractual agreements with AgustaWestland.

Private companies

Many Indian private companies have the technology and experience to produce indigenous systems for Indian military.

They have invested heavily in creating world class infrastructure after revised DPP in order to get some work. But all their efforts are going in vain.

MoD favors only those who are their favorites. Like few cartel of defence correspondents who are trying every possible effort to give an image makeover to Antony because they are given free rides and five course meal.

Similarly, the MoD only favors few private companies owned by big corporate giants who can satisfy the financial and material needs of the government officials and ruling party.

Projects are getting delayed and canceled time and again. The problem with Indian MoD is that nobody is held accountable for not performing here.

Antony, in his quest to remain honest, has cancelled many deals under his tenure that he thought would dent his propagated honest image.

Under his tenure, CBI has registered almost 23 cases since 2010 to probe defence purchases where the kickbacks and bribery were suspected.

He thinks that by cancelling deals and blacklisting defence firms he will be able to save his own and his ministry’s image. Banning firms to participate in defence exhibitions is not the solution.

In last five year so many RFPs have been cancelled and the fate of ongoing projects are unsure therefore it is no surprise that today India is the largest defence equipments importer and our respective forces are short of almost every new technology required to fight in the modern battlefield.

The fate of already delivered three AW 101 VVIP helicopter is not certain. The choppers are not flight-worthy because the IAF has run out of spares. The squadron to which they were assigned has stopped practice sorties to train the crew.

Their removable parts and the machine itself are being packed and stowed away at hangars in Palam and in Hindon near Delhi because the MoD cannot decide on their fate and the air force has run out of spares.

Antony is a selfish man who overlooks the larger national interest of the nation to secure his personal reputation, which is also doubtful.

In recent years he has always maintained a low profile but his wife has got lot of attention from inaugurating the ship launches to selling expensive paintings in exhibitions.

There were reports that his wife Elizabeth Antony, with no formal training in painting, made paintings which were bought by AAI for almost 28 crores.

Though she denied that she was paid such a huge sum but accepted that AAI bought few painting and the money fetched will be donated for cancer patients through an NGO. The interesting point here is that NGO also belongs to her.

With her denial, one can only assume that Antony and his associates remain in denial until things are brought to light by some third party.

During the period - the past 11 months when Italian investigators were chasing for evidence - India’s defence minister, who had built his political career on his integrity image, did not do much to unearth the alleged irregularities in the deal.

He was initially in denial of any bribery scam in VVIP helicopter deal till March 2013 when he finally accepted that there were middlemen working for this deal and kickbacks were paid.

In fact, the MoD consists of a bunch of crooks. Not even a bullet can be purchased without bribe. Congress can never be honest as it follows a unique business model. One will loot and others will have to allow it silently.

The armed forces are suffering under Antony’s so called modernization plans. Blacklisting foreign firms is not going to help the forces.

Ultimately, it is MoD’s inability to separate corruption from the merit of the equipment that is proving to be Achilles Heel. Also, the decision making process takes long time in MoD, leading to corruption.

If Antony enjoys state expenses for being a minister and is not doing any proactive or reactive work, he is accountable for and can be considered politically immoral and corrupt as well.

His pseudo image of being honest has fooled many people for all these years. It is high time that he should come out of hiding and reveal the truth.

To facilitate truth, Antony should immediately resign. Both he and UPA chairperson should be charged with treason for ruining and letting down this country for their personal gains.