NEW DELHI: Upping its ante, the BJP on Monday reiterated its demand for the resignation of Union Defence Minister A K Antony and sought Prime Minister’s explanation over the alleged irregularities in the procurement of Tatra trucks for the Army.
The party wondered whether Antony was “under some pressure to do nothing in the matter even though he was alerted about the issue in 2008, through a letter”.
“What prompted Antony to become inactive on this issue? Was he under some pressure? Whose pressure was it and at whose behest were sudden changes in procurement criteria made? While our demand for Antony’s resignation stands, the Prime Minister owes an explanation on the whole issue,” said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar.
Bringing out a May 12, 2008 letter of Jabalpur BJP MP Rakesh Singh seeking a probe into the deal, Javadekar said, Antony was “misleading the nation by stating that he acted promptly when the matter was brought to his notice”. Rakesh said that he had written to the Defence Minister on May 12, 2008 with a request to probe into the alleged favouritism in the procurement of high-mobility vehicles and Antony had replied to him on May 30, 2008, saying that “he was having the matter looked into”.
Elaborating on his May 2008 letter, Rakesh said that he had demanded that “a competent expert committee be constituted to investigate the alleged irregularities in the Tatra truck deal”.
Rakesh in his letter said, as per formulated policy, “high-mobility vehicle 6x6 was jointly developed by Vehicle Factory, Jabalpur (VFJ) and Ashok Leyland, and was approved for induction in 2000”. Final specifications were, however, issued only in 2007.
“It is quite surprising that during this intervening period about 1990 high mobility vehicles were procured, in the mix of 4x4 and 6x6, majority being in the 4x4 configuration on an ad hoc basis from BEML-Tatra, citing operational requirements. Question of operational requirement between 2000 and 2007 is beyond imagination as there had been no hostile activities on the borders,” Rakesh pointed out.