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Congress trying to save ‘mama Michel’: BJP launches new attack over VVIP chopper accused

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought up alleged AgustaWestland chopper deal middleman Christian James Michel’s extradition at a poll rally to target the Congress, BJP spokesman Sambit Patra raised the political affiliation of the lawyers defending the British businessman.

india Updated: Dec 06, 2018 18:04 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
AgustaWestland,chopper deal,alleged middleman
Christian Michel, a key accused and alleged middleman in India's abortive, scandal-tainted helicopter deal with Anglo-Italian firm Agusta Westland, is pictured inside a police vehicle outside a court in New Delhi, India, December 5, 2018. (File photo) (REUTERS)

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday said that the Congress was spending “sleepless nights” over the extradition of British businessman Christian James Michel, the alleged middleman in the multimillion-dollar AgustaWestland helicopter deal, and sending its lawyers in a bid to protect him.

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought up Michel’s extradition at a poll rally to target the Congress and warn that “secrets will be out”, BJP spokesman Sambit Patra cited the political affiliation of the lawyers defending Michel, who has been sent to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody for questioning.

Though the Congress had expelled Aljo Joseph from the party and removed him as Youth Congress’s legal department national in-charge for representing Michel, Patra dismissed it as a “charade”.

“The Congress is rattled after the extradition of Christian Michel. They sent their team to save Michel. Congress’s Aljo Joseph appeared for him in court, They later went through the charade of removing him,” Patra alleged

Claiminng “the family in Congress is getting sleepless nights”, the BJP leader said, “Yesterday, Aljo K Joseph had said ‘somebody had asked me to become Michel’s lawyer’. Who is that somebody? There are only two somebodies in the Congress, rest of them are nobody....”

Patra also said that apart from Joseph, Michel’s lawyers were Vishnu Shankar, who is the son of a Kerala Congress leader and Sriram Parakkat, who has been a member of Congress’ student wing, the National Students Union of India. All three have worked under top Congress lawyers like Salman Khurshid and Kapil Sibal, he added.

He alleged that this was no “coincidence” but it was the “extended hand of 10 Janpath”. Noting the three lawyers of the Congress had opposed police remand, Patra said that they will get access to Michel, meeting hims twice in the day.

All this was “a calculated move” by the Congress to ensure Michel is protected, he added.

Michel, 57, arrived in India shortly before midnight on Tuesday after being deported from Dubai, bringing back into focus a Rs 3,600-crore deal for 12 AgustaWestland helicopters that was eventually scrapped after allegations emerged that kickbacks had been paid to ensure the contract went to the Italy-based manufacturer Finmeccanica (now known as the Leonardo group). It was both signed and scrapped by the previous Congress-led UPA government.

First Published: Dec 06, 2018 15:30 IST