Former air chief marshal S.P. Tyagi, caught amidst allegations of receiving kickbacks to facilitate the VVIP AgustaWestland Chopper deal spoke to Outlook’s Toral Varia Deshpande.
What do you have to say to the allegations levelled against you in the 64-page report prepared by an Italian investigating agency?
Everything is a matter of record in the air HQs and, I can say with some authority that absolutely no changes were suggested by the iaf in general or by me in particular during the time when I was the chief (January 1, 2005, to March 1, 2007). The Italians have alleged that I received kickbacks via my cousins to change the specifications to facilitate AgustaWestland. But please understand, the air HQ has no authority to change the requirements. Such changes can be made only by the ministry of defence. In fact, the Raksha Mantri is the final authority.
So what’s your version of the truth?
The tenders were opened after my retirement. The trials were conducted after my retirement. The deal was signed after my retirement. How did I come into the picture? The only thing that happened in my tenure was that the Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued, but that was on the basis of specifications decided back in 2003—on the instructions of the then NSA Brajesh Mishra and in consultation with the spg. Why then would someone want to pay a huge amount to me?
Are you suggesting that you are being singled out?
The trials were conducted during former air chief Fali Major’s tenure. The contract was finally signed when Pradeep Naik was the air chief. So how come only I am being cornered?