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Mention Tehelka to Fernandes at own risk

By Josy Joseph in New Delhi
Last updated on: February 05, 2004 00:28 IST
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At the mere mention of Tehelka, George saab ko gussa kyon aata hai?

Defence Minister George Fernandes had landed back in India from South Africa at around 4am on Wednesday and was in his office by 7am. He later inaugurated Defexpo 2004 and took a round of the exhibition.

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Sometime in the morning, Justice S N Phukan, who probed the allegations of corruption in defence deals following the expose by Tehelka, had submitted his report to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Wednesday morning. The report is believed to have exonerated Fernandes of any wrong doing.

A few minutes after inaugurating Defexpo 2004, Fernandes was speaking to mediapersons when a reporter mentioned Tehelka.

The defence minister called the people behind the portal 'badmash' and 'jhoote log'. He said, "Daya aathi hai" when he thinks of the portal. "They have nothing truthful to speak of. Was there anything I had to prove?

"With elections round the corner, they (critics) may carry on with their coffins," he said referring to the allegations regarding the controversy over purchase of coffins for the armed forces at exorbitant prices from a US firm.
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Josy Joseph in New Delhi