Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a blistering attack on Congress and Sonia Gandhi on Sunday over the AgustaWestland scandal, demanding that the names of those who took kickbacks in the chopper deal be made public and the culprits punished.
He also said the Congress president’s name has been dragged into the controversial deal by an Italian court and not by him or anyone in the government.
On the campaign trail in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, states where BJP is politically on the margins, Modi repeatedly raked up the VVIP helicopter scam -- an issue which led to frequent face offs between Congress and BJP -- to mount an assault against the main opposition party and its leader.
“Madam Soniaji, ‘Aap ki Yae himmat (how dare you).’ You and Congress leaders are making statements that false allegations are being made against you. Did Modi or Modi government in the last two years even once take the name of Congress in the helicopter deal?” he asked, addressing an election rally in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday night.
“We have never mentioned any name even once. Investigation agencies were doing their job. Nobody in India gave the name. The name has come from Italy,” he said.
As the crowd cheered, Modi asked people “Do you have anyone known to you in Italy? Do you have relatives in Italy? Have you gone to Italy? Does anyone know you in Italy?”
“Everyone knows who has relatives in Italy,” he said, adding the Italian high court had released the names. “The bribe givers are behind bars, when will the bribe takers be punished is the question being asked by the nation now,” he said.
Mocking the Congress agitation at Jantar Mantar, he said the party’s ‘Save Democracy’ protest began following the heat over the chopper scam.
Modi targeted Congress over the AgustaWestland scandal and a string of scams under the UPA rule.
“There was corruption in coal (block allocation), in 2G and 3G. In 2G and 3G scams, big people are present here in Tamil Nadu who indulged in so much corruption. The entire country knows about it,” he told an election rally in Kanyakumari. Modi was apparently referring to DMK leaders Kanimozhi, daughter of the party supremo M Karunanidhi, A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran who have been accused in the 2G scam.
“Nowadays you see on television channels and newspapers... they took money even for purchase of helicopters as well. We are not saying this, a court in Italy is saying this,” Modi said.
In Tamil Nadu, Modi had chosen not to name the Congress party, its leaders or those of AIADMK and DMK.