One of the three middlemen in the VVIP chopper deal had asked top AgustaWestland officials to "target" UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and people "closest" to her to push the controversial Rs 3,727-crore contract, according to an Italian newspaper.
The newspaper posted on its website an unsigned note, which the Italian prosecution claimed was written by middleman Christian Michel. They alleged Michel asked his AgustaWestland contact in India, Peter Hulett, to get the deal pushed through.
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New Delhi had last month invoked an integrity pact to terminate the contract for the supply of 12 VVIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force. It has been alleged the UK-based firm allegedly paid middlemen more than Rs 373 crore in bribes.
"As Mrs Gandhi is the driving force behind the VIP, she will not fly any more in the Mi 8. Mrs Gandhi and her closest advisers are the people the (British) high commissioner should target," the note said, listing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as one of the seven key advisers who should be targeted.
The note also listed Pranab Mukherjee, Ahmed Patel, Veerappa Moily, Oscar Fernandes, MK Narayanan and Vinay Singh as key advisers who should be approached.
The note was seized from the office of another middleman based in Switzerland, Guido Ralph Haschke, who faces trial in the Italian court. The news report did not say if there was any evidence to suggest that the plan had actually been executed.
The BJP called the note a huge piece of evidence. Party spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said the BJP feared the case could blow up into another Bofors. Congress leader Rashid Alvi, however, dismissed the report, saying "none of our leaders are involved".
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