Targeting Congress leadership on the AgustaWestland bribery controversy, senior BJP leader and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today said Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi owed an explanation as all “decisions and manipulations in tenders were done during” the UPA regime.
“Now things are coming out as to how the entire fundamentals were changed for AgustaWestland, (how) the tenders were changed. The Congress party must reply, Madam Sonia Gandhi must reply, Rahul Gandhi must reply,” he told reporters here.
Referring to former Defence Minister A K Anthony’s remarks that the Modi government should punish the bribe takers if there was evidence, the IT Minister said the agencies were probing the matter.
He also alleged that ‘middleman’ Christian Michel was “allowed to flee” after CBI started its prelimiary inquiry in February 2013 just like Ottavio Quattrochi leaving India during the Bofors scandal.
Prasad asked Sonia “to please explain who were the bribe takers because all the decisions, manipulations in tenders were done when the UPA government was there.”
The NDA government was committed to a fair investigation into the matter and bring to book those “who have done this great corruption and brought shame to the country,” he said.
Slammimg Congress and its ally DMK on the 2G scam, Prasad said scams like Coal auction and AgustaWestland “keep tumbling” out with “alarming regularity.”
He said the investigation into the the AgustaWestland deal started after the Narendra Modi government came to power at the Centre, and former NSA MK Narayanan and former Governor of Goa B V Wanchoo, “were questioned only after we came to power.”
He also sought to ‘remind’ Congress that the proof in this case “has come in Italy,” in an apparent reference to the conviction of Finmeccanica’s former chief Giuseppe Orsi to 4.5 years in jail for corruption in the deal relating to sale of 12 VVIP choppers to India.
Prasad said there were no charges of corruption against his party-led government. “We can say proudly that our government has conducted itself with great honesty and transparency,” he said.
“The larger issue is can Mr Jairam Ramesh point out any impropriety or corruption in our two-year government,” he asked.
Asked about his cabinet colleague Piyush Goyal’s Tamil Nadu Chief Minister “Jayalalithaa is inaccessible” remark, the Minister said, “I don’t think this is a big issue in” the state.
“We as Central Ministers keep visiting the entire country. We may be able to meet Chief Ministers or not but that is not the issue at all. That should not become a political issue at all,” he said.
The real issues were corruption, “too well-known” in the AIADMK rule, lack of growth and unemployment, he said.
The BJP was fighting both AIADMK and DMK and a ‘beacon of hope’ among corruption, he claimed.
Earlier, Prasad released the party’s propaganda song for the May 16 Assembly elections.