New Delhi — The Prime Minister Mr. Raiiv Gandhi indicated on Thursday that India would rather forego the 45 million aid being offered by Britain than buy the unsuitable Westland helicopters whose purchase was tied to it.
Answering a question by Mr. Suresh Kalmadi in the Rajya Sabha, Mr. Gandhi said no letter of intent had been signed for the helicopters, he said the question was whether the helicopter was suitable for India or not.
There were two aspects to it. One was that it did not meet the original requirements laid down, and the other was the safety requirement. Mr. Gandhi said other helicopters were available which were superior to Westland, for use in coastal areas and bad weather.
The Prime Minister said even if India accepted the 45 million aid, the Westland helicopters would become a losing proposition in seven or eight years. He said India had asked Britain to divert some of the aid for other purchases like Sea Harrier aircraft, but London had not agreed. Mr. Gandhi said there was always a motive behind such aid, and referred lightly to the purchase of medical vans during “the Janata regime.
In response to a question by Mr. Vishwa Bandhu Gupta, Mr. Gandhi said India had indicated to Britain that it could amend its laws if they were currently ineffective to control anti-Indian activities in that country.
The Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr. Khurshid Alam Khan, told him that the Prime Ministers of India and Britain had discussed bilateral and international matters, including the anti-Indian activities in Britain the situation in Sri Lanka and the international economic situation. Mrs. Thatcher had appreciated India’s concern at the activities of anti-Indian elements in Britain and said Britain would not allow its hospitality to be abused by these elements.
Mr. Khan said Mrs. Thatcher was equally anxious about Mr. Gandhi’s security when he visits Britain and it was expected that necessary steps would be taken.
The minister said President Jayawardene had not specifically asked for troops from Britain, but had referred to the stationing of British troops in his banquet speech during Mrs. Thatcher’s visit.
Article extracted from this publication >> May 17, 1985