Congress, CPI-M trade charges over Israel arms deal

March 31st, 2009 - 8:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, March 31 (IANS) The Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Tuesday traded charges over an arms deal with Israel, signed at the end of February.
Minister of state for Information and Broadcasting Anand Sharma told reporters here Tuesday that the CPI-M has no right to speak on corruption when it is defending its state party secretary (Pinayari Vijayan) in the SNC Lavalin power contract scam.

“The CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) has chargesheeted their secretary and in order to wriggle out of that, they are coming out with baseless accusations. There is an established defence acquisition process in place for purchases. A sweeping statement like this will not help,” Sharma said.

“The CPI-M should behave in a responsible manner,” he added.

Sharma’s press conference was followed by one addressed by state Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, who told reporters that the Congress party should come clean on the matter because there are allegations that Rs.600 crore had gone into its election fund.

“It is high time that Defence Minister A.K.Antony breaks his silence on this issue,” said Isaac.

State CPI-M general secretary Vijayan is accused by the CBI of wrongly awarding contracts to Canadian company SNC Lavalin for renovation of two hydro-power projects when he was power minister of the state 12 years ago.

This has become a major election campaign point of the Congress and the CPI-M is all set to take up the arms deal to counter the Lavalin issue.

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