Controversies surrounding the dealing of Tatra truck are getting deeper by the day. Now, a letter has surfaced, which can cause fresh embarrassment to the Congress-led government and defence minister A K Antony. In the letter, which was supposedly written by Rakesh Singh, a BJP MP from Jabalpur, to the defence minister, Singh had requested Antony to look into favouritism that was meted out in Tatra truck dealings.
The letter, a copy of which is in MiD DAY’s possession, dates back to May 2008. Singh had stated that much better and cheaper trucks were being produced in Jabalpur and that there was no need to purchase Tatra vehicles from abroad. He had also mentioned in the letter the name of Ravi Rishi, Vectra Group chairman, claiming that he was the man because of whom the Eurocopter defence deal was scrapped.
Singh, in his letter, had stated that people with vested interests wanted to bring changes in the technical parameter to eliminate competition and favour Tatra. He further stated that the CBI was investigating the tie-up between BEML and Tatra for production of heavy recovery vehicles for non-fulfillment of indigenisation and continuous large imports.
Singh had also mentioned that 6x6 trucks were being made in Jabalpur, costing Rs 30 lakh each, whereas the same truck was being imported for more than Rs 60 lakh from abroad. Singh also received a reply from Antony on May 30, 2008 in which he was told that the matter would be looked into. “Nothing happened after his reply. I also raised the issue in the Parliament the same year but did not get a satisfactory reply,” Singh said.
When asked why he did not come out with this earlier, Singh said that it took him some time for find the documents, as they were related to his previous tenure.
Meanwhile, BJP has demanded the defence minister’s resignation. “He was informed about it and he had even acknowledged receiving of the letter. The nation wants to know on whose behest the defence minister did not act,” said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar.
CBI has already registered a case in this matter and has questioned Ravi Rishi, chairman of the Vectra Group. The documents relating to the deal between Vectra and the army are also being scrutinised.
Rishi’s name had cropped up in connection with the allegation that Army chief General V K Singh was offered kickbacks to clear a defence deal for the procurement of 1,500 Tatra trucks, which are used as missile carriers by the army.