Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is shown at a June 16 news conference. (Indranil Mukherjee / Agence France-Presse)
NEW DELHI — Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the ruling United Progressive Alliance Party’s presidential nominee, has denied accusations from a prominent social activist who said Mukherjee has been slow to look into charges of corruption involving India’s purchase of Scorpene submarines.
Arvind Kejriwal, an associate of Anna Hazare, who has been spearheading a movement against corruption in public life here, has demanded an inquiry into the charges against Mukherjee ahead of the July 19 presidential election.
In a June 17 news conference, Kejriwal noted the Scorpene deal was contracted with France in 2005, when Mukherjee was defense minister, but Mukherjee has failed to investigate allegations of kickbacks paid to Indian officials in connection with the deal.
“The president’s post is the highest constitutional office of the country, and the person donning it must be aboveboard and free from any allegation,” Kejriwal said.
Denying the charges, Mukherjee said June 18 that the allegations were “false, self-seeking, mala-fide and made with ulterior motive and lacking any form of responsibility.”
State-owned Mazagon Docks Ltd. is building the six Scorpenes at its Mumbai shipyard under license from France’s DCNS.
The submarines were due for delivery beginning this year under a $3.9 billion agreement between India and France. However, the delivery has been delayed to 2015, and the cost of the project has gone up by nearly $1 billion.