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AgustaWestland case probe shows Cong is "neck deep in


Press Trust of India Mumbai
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Monday alleged that investigations in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case indicate that the Congress was "neck deep" in corruption.
The AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case is currently being heard in a Delhi court over claims of money laundering and kickbacks paid to middlemen.
The Delhi court on Saturday imposed restrictions on alleged middleman Christian Michel meeting his lawyers in the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) custody after the agency said that he was misusing legal access by passing chits to the advocates asking them how to tackle questions on "Mrs Gandhi'.
"Investigations have been carried out by Italy's investigative agencies and its reports have also been corroborated by ED's report. Even Christian Michel has clearly named Sonia Gandhi and hinted at her son Rahul Gandhi. So not only Congress', but involvement of several other leaders has been established," Fadnavis told reporters here.
"This has exposed that they (Congress and its leaders) are neck deep in corruption," he said.
He said Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi need to answer questions related to allegations of corruption in the AgustaWestland scam.
The Congress has been "exposed enough". It needs to clarify its stand "though it will be tough for it," he said.
"When Rahul Gandhi can frequently talk about Rafale case and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), why doesn't he speak now?" the chief minister asked.
He claimed the evidence gathered by probing agencies suggested that the deal was struck with Michel and Rs 225 crore was to be paid as brokerage, out of which Rs 125 crore has been paid.
"HAL was deliberately ignored and kept out of the deal. The Congress and its senior leaders have benefited by this corrupt deal and ED has reiterated the same," he said.
To a question why NCP chief Sharad Pawar was supporting the Congress over some issues, Fadnavis said Pawar was "aware" about the whole "corruption".
"I am not sure why Pawar is advocating for the Congress," he added.
Asked why the BJP was not replying to ally Shiv Sena's attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in connection with the Rafale jet deal, Fadnavis said, "We don't give any importance to Shiv Sena's allegations. But we will give a befitting reply at the right time."

The chief minister said his government has made best possible efforts to help the onion farmers and also written to the Centre to provide export incentives.
Fadnavis also said that he has sent a notice to Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, asking him to retract his allegations over the Mumbai Development Plan or else be ready to face a defamation case.
Vikhe Patil had last week alleged that several illegal amendments have been made to the Mumbai Development Plan for the benefit of builders' lobby.
If Fadnavis does not scrap these amendments, he will file a public interest litigation, the Congress leader had said.
Fadnavis said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had appointed a panel and then its report was sent to the improvement committee which was scrutinised by various representatives and stakeholders, followed by the civic body and government officials.
The report was later sent to BMC's general body which made necessary amendments and it was then referred to the government, he said.
The government formed a four-member committee and drafted its own report and sought BMC's viewpoint on it. It was then published and objections and suggestions were invited, he said.
After completion, the report was again sent back to the BMC and when it came to the government, it was accepted, the chief minister said.
"Therefore, the process involved in making the Development Plan is an outcome of collective wisdom and the allegations levelled by Vikhe Patilji are absurd and baseless," Fadnavis said.
The Chief Minister's Office had said last week that the development plan had reserved 65 plots for open space and playground and it was not prepared for builders' interest.

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First Published: Dec 31 2018 | 5:05 PM IST

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