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AK-47 deal: BJP rubbishes Cong claim
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 5
The government as well as the BJP today dismissed the Congress allegations of irregularities in the purchase of AK-47 assault rifles and accused it of stooping low in a “conspiracy to malign India and the security forces.”

“Goebels must be turning in his grave,” BJP vice-president Vijay Kumar Malhotra said at a press conference here while describing as blatant lies the charges levelled by Congress spokesman Kapil Sibal yesterday and defending the government’s decision to go in for the deal.

The Congress had a vested interest in raising the issue as one of the AICC general secretary’s son is married to the daughter of an agent of the Russian company whose tender was rejected, he said, declining to name the Congress leader.

The government, defending its decision to purchase the AK-47 rifles from a Bulgarian company, gave details leading to the finalisation of the deal and the purchase of the rifles.

A Home Ministry spokesman said a high-level Indian technical team headed by the Inspector-General of the CRPF, along with experts from the Defence Ministry, visited the production unit of the Bulgarian company which was 100 per cent Bulgarian government venture in January this year to inspect and test-fire the assault rifles.

The team was satisfied with the production facilities in Bulgaria and also the quality of the rifles. Clearance was then given for the dispatch of 27,000 AK-47 rifles for the Ministry of Home Affairs, the spokesman said.

“The total value of acquisition of 64,000 AK-47 rifles is around Rs 53 crore and not Rs 20,000 crore as mentioned in newspaper reports,” he said.

Asserting that the bids for the supply of these rifles by Russia’s Rosoboronexport were rejected as they “did not meet the specifications of the tender”, he said, adding that the rifles offered by the Romanian firm, Romtehnica, also did not pass the critical tests.

The deal with the Bulgarian company was finalised following negotiations by the Price Negotiating Committee which led to the bringing down of the prices to “$ 155 for fixed butt and $ 163 for each folding butt rifles”, he said.

On charges that the firm was linked with gunrunners, he said: “It has also been certified by the Bulgarian Embassy in India that the company is a 100 per cent state-owned company of the Government of Bulgaria”.


BJP questions Sonia’s competence to be PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 5
The BJP kept its focus of attack on Congress president Sonia Gandhi demanding an explanation from its main political rival as to why she did not adopt Indian citizenship for about 15 years after marrying into the Gandhi family in 1968?

The BJP also questioned the Congress president’s competence to lead the country, saying that she could not, and had not, made a single speech extempore, whether in Parliament or outside it. A person was permitted to read from the text only his/her maiden speech in the House, it added.

Raising these issues at a press conference here, BJP vice-president Vijay Kumar Malhotra demanded an explanation from the Congress on these two issues.

“Congress party and Ms Sonia Gandhi owe an explanation on these issues,” he said.

Mr Malhotra, however, hastened to add that he was only challenging the competence of a particular person. “How can a person who can’t speak extempore for five minutes be in Parliament, that too as the Leader of the Opposition. Such a person is not competent to be the Prime Minister,” Mr Malhotra asserted.

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