In a significant development amid the crackdown on UPA-era corruption, the Enforcement Directorate has summoned senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on August 23 in connection with the AirBus case.
This is the same alleged aviation scam case in which NCP leader and Chidambaram's fellow UPA minister Praful Patel had been questioned weeks earlier.
Praful Patel, the civil aviation minister under the UPA had been quizzed by the probe agency on matters relating to granting air traffic rights to foreign carriers, and over the purchase of 111 aircraft for Air India during his tenure which purportedly led to losses for the national carrier.
Patel had appeared before the ED two months ago in connection with a money-laundering probe that had been initiated in the case. The ED's chargesheet in the case has named aviation lobbyist Deepak Talwar as well and alleged that he was in regular touch with Praful Patel. Talwar who was arrested by the ED earlier in 2019, allegedly finalised numerous communications addressed to Praful Patel on behalf of foreign airlines, purportedly obtaining undue favours for them.
"He (Talwar) illegally managed to secure favorable traffic rights for these airlines during 2008-09 at the cost of the national carrier Air India," the ED has claimed. In liew of this, payments to the tune of Rs 272 crore were allegedly made to Talwar.
The latest development comes amid former Finance and Home Minister P Chidambaram's ongoing troubles in the INX Media case and the Aircel Maxis case. On August 9, both P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram had been granted provisional relief from arrest till August 23. The case specifically refers to alleged irregularities in grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval in the Aircel-Maxis deal.