Have broken middlemen-Defence Ministry nexus: Parrikar

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The nexus between middlemen, arms agents and government officials has been broken, according to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who also said that investigators were on hot trail of suspects in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.

There was "fear psychosis and frozen mindset" when he inherited the ministry in 2014 and no one was ready to take any decision and changing that system was a challenge, he asserted.

"Under our tenure, we have broken the nexus that middlemen and arms agents had with officials in Defence Ministry," Parrikar told PTI in an interview.

He said things have come to such a change that officers are not afraid of putting negative views on a file which they avoided earlier.

"The crux of the achievement is change in mindset. The Ministry was in a fear psychosis and was stuck up in a frozen mindset. I have managed to break this barrier of fear and create atmosphere of trust, if not full but partial that is good enough for the Ministry to start moving," he said.

Parrikar, who assumed charge of the Ministry in November 2014 from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, talked about wide- ranging issues concerning his Ministry including Rafale deal, AgustaWestland scam and acquisition programmes and described transparency, fast decision-making process and ease of doing business among his other successes.

On AgustaWestland probe, he said the investigators are hot on the trail of people, including journalists, who are linked to the VVIP chopper scam and the effort is to unravel the money trail with evidence.

Asked about murmurs that government has evidence against journalists in the VVIP chopper scam, he responded, "Who said we have evidence? I am not saying there is no evidence but evidence required in such matters need to be conclusive. Let them (investigating agencies) link.

"Sometimes you get evidence but it cannot be linked in a particular manner. Let them do their job. They are trying to crack open the money trail. It is not easy." 

Parrikar said there are many people whose tickets for foreign travel were booked through middleman Christian Michel.

"It has to show that it was done for a particular reason.

Let us assume, there is an air show and someone sends tickets.

This cannot be proved as corruption. Many a times, when marriages are held in Goa, the host sends air tickets to guests. But this is not corruption. Because he wants them to come there but if it happens too often, and for too many times, then it can definitely be a special favour. Then it starts going into the zone of corruption," he said.
source PTI

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