Bharatiya Janata Party MP Varun Gandhi, who is also seen as a chief ministerial candidate in the forthcoming UP Assembly polls, hogged headlines on Thursday with the alleged arms dealer Abhishek Verma accusing him of divulging defence secrets to arms manufacturers after being “honey-trapped.” Varun has denied the charges and vowed legal action against the charges.
At a press conference in New Delhi, Swaraj Abhiyan leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav released a letter written by Edmonds Allen, a New York-based lawyer, to the Prime Minister’s Office last month that Varun was honey-trapped and compromised by Verma, according to a PTI report.
Allen has claimed that Verma “blackmailed” Varun, a member of the Defence Consultative Committee, and extracted sensitive information.
Varun, however, claimed that he has never Verma, an accused in the 2006 Naval War Room leak case, since 2004. “The entire information presented does not contain an iota of proof that either I had access or shared any communication regarding sensitive information to Verma,” Varun reportedly said.
He also said that he did not have any sensitive information as a member of the defence Consultative Committee in the first place: “Any MP who has been on that committee knows that not even 0.1 percentage of any confidential information is shared with the committee.”
Allen and Verma were partners till 2012, when they fell out.
Bhushan has charged the BJP government with not blacklisting Thales, the company that sold scam-tainted Scorpene submarines, despite having all the details of the wrongdoings. Dassault, which recently signed a deal with India for 36 Rafale aircraft, acquired it.
“Any action against Thales may have jeopardized the Rafale deal. Moreover, contrary to previous announcements of getting 126 aircrafts (sic), the government bought 36 aircrafts (sic), paying double the price for individual units. It certainly appears to be the case that something is fishy,” Bhushan said.
In a tweet, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar defended the Rafale Deal. He said, “It is the best deal ever.”
Bhushan and Yadav did not take Varun’s name during the press conference and instead asked journalists to refer to the letter. Bhushan said that he has a lot of photographs of Varun’s but does not want to disclose them.