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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

Barbs fly between BJP, Congress over VVIP chopper deal

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis said the Italian court verdicts mentioned Sonia and Rahul Gandhi’s names in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal. But state Congress chief Chavan questioned the CM’s silence on Rafale deal.

mumbai Updated: Jan 01, 2019 08:30 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Congress chief Ashok Chavan questions CM’s silence on Rafale deal
Congress chief Ashok Chavan questions CM’s silence on Rafale deal(HT Photo)

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Monday that court verdicts and documents from before the Modi government’s reign showed Gandhi family’s involvement in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, adding they should “come clear on it”. State Congress chief Ashok Chavan, meanwhile, rubbished the allegations, asking why Fadnavis was not talking about the Rafale deal.

Fadnavis said the Rs 3,200-crore deal for 12 VVIP helicopters involved kickbacks for the Indian Airforce officers, bureaucrats and Congress leaders and shell companies for the transfer of money.

“Of the Rs 225 crore agreed upon, Rs 125 crore was paid to the Congress, bureaucrats and IAF officers in 52:28:20 ratio. Investigation reports by various agencies mentioned Sonia Gandhi, her son, Rahul, and their family members, who are referred to as family, establishing their clear involvement. The Italian Court, in its judgment, mentions Sonia Gandhi’s name on page 193 and 204 on four occasions,” he said.

Refuting the claim that Christian Michel, extradited by the Indian government for his alleged role in the AgustaWestland scam, was being pressured by the BJP government to take Sonia Gandhi’s name, Fadnavis said the Delhi court has imposed restriction on Michel’s lawyer after he was found to be misusing legal access by exchanging chits with lawyers. “Many references of the names of Gandhi family date back to the rule of the Congress-led government in this case. Where does the question of BJP government’s interference arise? All courts have termed the deal a scam. Interestingly, the Congress appointed its senior leader as a lawyer for Michel. The party had used government machinery for personal gains to compromise on national security,” he said.

Fadnavis also asked why every deal by the Congress led to a scam and why middlemen and deals related to the defence were linked to the party. He said Rahul Gandhi was raising questions on HAL’s ouster in Rafale deal, but he was silent on a state-owned company being replaced with a private company in AgustaWestland deal. The CM said he was not aware of AgustaWestland’s participation in Make In India Conclave held in Mumbai in February 2016, despite the company being blacklisted by the Centre in 2013.

State Congress chief Ashok Chavan said it was an attempt by the BJP to attack them to cover up Rafale scam. “The BJP is hiding behind Christian Michel to hide its corruption and scams. Why did Modi lift the ban on AgustaWestland and let it participate in Make In India? The government lost all prosecutions against AgustaWestland, including one in an Italian court in January 2018 and Milan court in September.”

Chavan said, “The Milan court said there was no corruption by Indian officials. The Modi government did not even make an appeal in the case. The Modi government and the Enforcement Directorate wrote a false story of Christian Michel in July 2018 to defame the Congress,” he said.

Chavan said Michel’s lawyer Rosemary Patrizi and his sister Sasha Ozeman have alleged that the Modi government had offered to drop the case against Michel, if he named Congress leaders.

CM Fadnavis also attacked NCP chief Sharad Pawar for supporting the Congress and Sonia Gandhi.

First Published: Dec 31, 2018 23:26 IST

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