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BJP, Cong trade barbs over ED's 'Mrs Gandhi' claim in VVIP chopper case

The BJP asserted that Christian Michel's revelation about the 'son of Italian lady', 'big man' and 'R' to the Enforcement Directorate (ED), pointed towards the Gandhi family


Michel  Christian
Agusta Westland scam accused middleman Michel Christian | Photo: PTI

Terming the an "embarrassing disaster" under the current dispensation, the Congress Sunday said it is fully committed to probing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government's "collusion" with AgustaWestland if it comes to power in 2019.

The party said that after the came to power at the Centre, the Defence Ministry lifted the ban on AgustaWestland imposed during the UPA rule and even allowed it to bid for 100 naval utility helicopters.

"The ED may save the Modi government today, but when it is voted out of power in 2019, we are committed to fully investigate PM Modi and his government's collusion with AgustaWestland," Congress spokesperson Randeep told reporters.

He added, "Under Modi, the ED has become an embarrassing disaster."

The attack came a day after the probe agency, investigating the AgustaWestland case, told a court that accused middleman Christian Michel has made a reference to "Mrs Gandhi".

alleged that the government was pressuring Michel to make a "false" statement against the Gandhi family and dared it to place in the public domain any such evidence it has against the Congress leadership.

He accused the government of trying to hide its own "collusion" in AgustaWestland case by creating a lot of noise.

"They are using Christian Michel as a sounding board to defend its own wrong doings and misdeeds. Panicking and running scared, PM Modi and his government are now raking up controversies to hide its own government's connivance," he said.

"It is now clear that the 'chowkidaar is daagdaar' (the watchman is tainted)," he alleged.

ALSO READ: AgustaWestland case: Christian Michel named 'Mrs Gandhi', ED tells court

also posed a set of six questions to the government and asked why the Defence Ministry ended the ban on AgustaWestland in July 2014 and made the company a part of the 'Make in India' programme.

Meanwhile, spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said "The Congress party is giving cover fire to Christian Michel, alleged middleman in VVIP AgustaWestland chopper scam, and is defending him."

"There is a kind of restlessness and anxiety in the Congress camp after the extradition of Christian Michel. Things are pointing towards the involvement of the Gandhi family in it," said Trivedi, while talking to the reporters here.

"In the last 30-32 years whenever the name of any foreign crops up in corruption in India, whether it be Anderson, Ottavio Quattrocchi, Guido Haschke or Christian Michel, why all are found to be related to the Gandhi family only," asked Trivedi.

The on Saturday asserted that alleged middleman in VVIP chopper scam, Christian Michel's revelation about the 'son of Italian lady', 'big man' and 'R' to the (ED), pointed towards the Gandhi family.

The Delhi court has sent Michel to a seven-day ED remand on Saturday. The decision came following ED's demand to probe further about the 'big man' referred to as 'R.'

The BJP spokesperson said the Congress party is doing press-conferences on the issue to protect the accused Christian Michel as the Gandhi family is also involved in corruption.

The AgustaWestland helicopter deal, finalised during the previous government headed by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, got mired in the allegations of kickbacks.

According to the ED charge sheet, Michel had received kickbacks to the tune of 30 million Euros from AgustaWestland for the deal involving the purchase of 12 VIP helicopters. The deal, signed in 2007, was scrapped in 2013 following the bribery allegation.

First Published: Sun, December 30 2018. 18:54 IST