|CBI names George Fernandes
in arms scandal
10 Oct, 2006 . NEW DELHI:
NEW DELHI: Former Defence Minister George Fernandes has been named an accused
by the Central Bureau of investigation in a case related to the purchase
of Barak missile system from Israel. George had been forced to resign from
the post on March 15, 2001, in the wake of the Tehelka expose.
While announcing his resignation,
he had rejected the charges by the news site and asserted that the Rs 7
billion deal had been approved by then scientific advisor to the defence
ministry Dr A P J Abdul Kalam. The then Chief of Naval staff Admiral Sushil
Kumar had come out in support of George saying that the latter had not
cleared the Barak missiles as the Navy had made up its mind to induct the
sea skimming missiles way back in 1992.
"It is wrong to say that
George had tried to push through the Barak deal. Navy was convinced of
the efficiency, cost-effectiveness of the Israeli missile system, which
had undergone tests since 1992," he had said. Fernandes said the government
had cleared the deal as the then Naval chief and Kalam had stressed on
the urgency of inducting the Barak system in view of Pakistan acquiring
the missile firing P-3C Orion aircraft and French anti-ship Exocet missiles
Accusing Congress chief Sonia
Gandhi of being behind the filing of a corruption case against him in the
Barak missile deal, former Defence Minister George Fernandes on Tuesday
denied the allegations against him and suggested the charge should be first
levelled against President A P J Abdul Kalam.
"This is the handiwork of
that lady," Fernandes said referring to Gandhi shortly after the CBI announced
filing of an FIR against him, his party leader Jaya Jaitley and former
navy chief Admiral Sushil Kumar in connection with the defence deal.
Fernandes said the decision
to procure Barak missiles was taken much before he entered the Defence
Ministry and he was only fulfilling the procurement needs of the Navy.
"Thereafter, the Navy insisted that they needed it. I had to take a decision.
I took the advise of the present President and the then Advisor to the
Prime Minister A P J Abdul Kalam. "On his (Kalam's) clearance it was done.
He said it was needed. He had put his hand into it," a combative Fernandes
told reporters at his residence here. "If they have to make any charge
against me, then they should charge the President as well as he first called
for it (the missile system), asked for it before I went into the government,"
he said. The then Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister said the Barak
missile system was needed and that is how it came. Otherwise, it wouldn't
have come, Fernandes added. "There cannot be charge against me alone,"
he said. Mounting a scathing attack against Sonia Gandhi, Fernandes said
the whole episode was "the handiwork of that lady and I don't know what
benefit she will derive out of it. This game has been going on for sometime.
They have been spreading lies and canard against me. Has anything been
proved so far"? He said, adding he was ready to get arrested in the case
if there was any evidence against him. He also denied the charges against
his associate Jaya Jaitley, saying "this is gross injustice with her. There
is a racket in the name of Tehelka who are doing all this. This is the
handiwork of Sonia." "I am alleging that she (Sonia) is the mother of Tehelka.
I challenge her to prove otherwise. If she thinks she can destroy us by
levelling allegations against us, we are ready to bring an end to her politics,"
he said. Attacking Congress, Fernandes said "this government belongs to
those who had levelled allegations against me that I made money out of
the blood of soldiers but even after coming to power they could not prove
the charge". "I have written them several letters but so far not received
any reply and if this government wants to send me to jail, I welcome it
and I am ready to face the consequences," he added. Asked why the deal
was signed when there was only one bidder, he said "this had happened in
the past. This continues even today and will continue in the future". "If
the military wants something and it is not available at different places,
what will you do? You have to consider the availability factor and cost