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Chopper deal: CBI examining Narayanan’s statement

Former West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan’s statement to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection to AgustaWestland scam is under close scrutiny. The agency is examining his statement to assess if there was “any malafide information” that could go against Narayanan. Senior CBI official said the agency would decide whether there is a case of criminality against Narayanan or whether to name him as witness in the case.

Narayanan, 80, former national security advisor, resigned as the West Bengal governor on Monday. He was questioned by the CBI recently in connection with the bribery allegations in the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP chopper deal with Anglo Italian company AgustaWestland.

CBI is likely to question Goa Governor B V Wanchoo in the same case soon. Wanchoo was the then head of the Special Protection Group (SPG), which was entrusted with the task of guarding the prime minister. He was holding the post during the AgustaWestland deal in the UPA regime.

Narayanan was quizzed by CBI since he was part of the group, which had gone into the tendering procedures before purchase of the helicopters. CBI went ahead with his questioning after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the investigative agency could go ahead, as there is no immunity to the constitutional office of the governor as per law.

CBI had registered a case against former Indian Air Force Chief S P Tyagi along with 13 others, including his cousins and European middlemen in the case. The agency had alleged that the former Air chief had reduced flying ceiling of the helicopter so that AgustaWestland was included in the bids. The investigative agency has also alleged that the decision was taken in consultation with the officials of the SPG and the Prime Minister’s Office, including Narayanan.

The defence ministry had concluded a contract with AgustaWestland in February 2010 for supply of 12 AW-101 helicopters for the Indian Air Force’s Communication Squadron, which ferries the president, the prime minister and other VVIPs. Earlier this year government had scrapped the deal with AgustaWestland for the violation of integrity clause.

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