Defence Minister A.K. Antony was reportedly aware of the alleged corruption in the procurement of Army’s Tatra trucks as early as 2009, a letter written by his Cabinet colleague Ghulam Nabi Azad suggests.
Headlines Today is in possession of Azad’s letter, written in October 2009, in connection with the purchase of Tatra trucks. He had written on behalf of Congress president Sonia Gandhi asking Antony to take necessary action on a complaint that was received by her. The complaint was made by Karnataka Congress leader D. Hanumanthappa.
According to a report in English daily DNA, Hanumanthappa had charged the chief of Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEMI), the nodal agency for importing the truck, of corruption.
He had alleged that the BEML chief had placed an order worth Rs.6,000 crore for Tatra trucks from a British agent violating procurement guidelines. The DNA report also says that after receiving Azad’s letter, the defence ministry had responded saying the matter was being investigated.
Azad’s letter comes in the wake of Army chief General V.K. Singh’s sensational claim that he was offered a bribe by a middleman to approve the purchase of 600 substandard trucks in 2010. The chief had also said that he had reported the matter to the defence minister.
Antony had recently told Parliament that he did not act despite the Army chief’s claim since there was no written complaint made.