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Predecessors did it too: Rudy

February 12, 2004 08:38 IST

Facing accusations of 'milking' Public Sector Undertakings under his charge, Civil Aviation Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy on Wednesday said all his predecessors too could be considered guilty because they had availed of similar facilities.

The minister has been accused of getting the Airports Authority of India, a PSU under his ministry, to foot the bills for installation of air-conditioners, mobile phones, paintings and other items at his office and residence. He ruled out his resignation insisting there was no misuse of public funds.

Opposition parties have demanded that he be sacked from the government and institution of an immediate independent probe into the allegations.

Rudy has met Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani to discuss the issue.

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Blaming 'vested interests' opposed to the reform process in the civil aviation sector, he told PTI in Delhi, "Where is the misuse of public funds? If this is what has been happening for the past 50 years then all those who had occupied my chair earlier should be criticised.

"I have been performing to the best of my abilities and, under the leadership of the prime minister, have delivered also."

He wants the relationship between a PSU and the government to be 'clearly defined. I have been made a victim as I wanted to change the system'.

He insisted that he had paid (Rs 56,500) for a fountain constructed at his residence.

He claimed to have paid for his four nights/five days stay at the Taj Exotica Hotel in Goa on New Year's eve despite two days being an official visit when he held a series of meetings with officials of Dabolim airport, aviation and defence authorities. He denied that AAI had either made the bookings or footed the bills of the hotel.

About the charge that AAI was made to pay over Rs 200,000 for oil paintings, he said they were meant for his office and the AAI building, which houses the headquarters of the Civil Aviation Ministry.

BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu had on Tuesday admitted that it was an 'indiscretion' on Rudy's part not to have paid the hotel bill but that it is now a 'closed chapter'. He wondered why the opposition is unwilling to leave the issue alone.
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