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 effectiveness


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