KOLKATA: West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan resigned on Monday after being questioned by the CBI at Raj Bhavan here on Friday as a witness to the AgustaWestland chopper deal, for which bribes were allegedly paid.
Narayanan sent in his resignation letter to President Pranab Mukherjee, who forwarded the same to the Union Home Ministry.
Narayanan, who was appointed Governor to this state in January, 2010, resigned more than six months before his term was to end next year.
It was the first time a Governor was questioned by the CBI at Raj Bhavan in West Bengal which was also unprecedented in the entire country.
The 80-year-old former director of the Intelligence Bureau was National Security Adviser to the Congress-led UPA-II Government and in 2005 the Anglo-Italian company had secured the contract to supply helicopter for VVIPs.
Narayanan, in his capacity as NSA, as well as the then director of special protection group and present Goa Governor B.V. Wanchoo, were present in the meetings to discuss technical specifications of the helicopter and had advised the central government on the deal.
The CBI is probing into the Rs 3,600-crore deal in which bribes to the tune of Rs 360 crore were paid and the agency had registered a case against then Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi, his relatives and some European middlemen.
The main allegation against Tyagi was that he had reduced the flying ceiling of the helicopter and enabled AgustaWestland to secure the contract. The former IAF chief has denied the allegations.
The deal with AgustaWestland was ultimately cancelled by the government in December last year.
As the technical specifications were allegedly altered by Tyagi, the UK-based company could enter the bid as otherwise it could not have qualified for it.
The CBI’s request to question Narayanan and Wanchoo was rejected by the Union Law Ministry under the UPA government, citing provisions of the Constitution and stating that governors enjoyed immunity. The CBI then approached the secretariat of President Pranab Mukherjee as governors are appointed by the highest office of the country and stressed that it needed to question both the governors as witnesses.
However, after Friday’s questioning by the CBI as a witness to the case, it was clear that the 1955 batch former IPS officer, Narayanan, would no more continue in the gubernatorial office as it became a question of personal prestige for him.
After the BJP-led NDA government came to power at the Centre in May, Narayanan was receiving calls from the Union Home Ministry to tender his resignation.
Despite West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s request to remain in office, Narayanan knew that the AgustaWestland deal might be used as a weapon to put pressure on him and reportedly told Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh that he would need some more days to tie up some loose ends in West Bengal.
Narayanan had sworn in Mamata Banerjee in May, 2011, after she ousted the CPM-led Left Front from power in West Bengal after 34 years.
Though he had gone to New Delhi after the new government came to power and met the President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he knew his days were numbered because of his close proximity to the Congress.
Narayanan will be given a farewell party by Raj Bhavan employees on Tursday at the Marble Hall and the next day he will leave for Chennai.