Countering Congress president Rahul Gandhi unabated attack over Rafale deal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday pilloried him over the alleged links of AgustaWestland ‘middlemen’ Christian Michel with the Gandhi family. During an interaction with BJP workers from Tamil Nadu, the Modi said that the arrested ‘middleman’ of the AgustaWestland VVIP Chopper deal was close to the ‘First Family’ of the Congress. Modi said that middlemen from the Congress era and international forces were behind the attacks on the defence procurement deals as they don’t want India’s military to get stronger.
“Recently, a defence middleman was caught and brought back to India. But do you know who this middleman is close to? This middleman is close to the current ‘First Family’ of the Congress. The people behind attacks on our defence procurement are often middlemen from the Congress era and international forces who want to ensure that India’s military doesn’t get stronger,” Modi said.
The prime minister also linked Michel with the delay in the procurement of Rafale fighter aircraft during the UPA government and said that people of the country must know how he knew so much about the timing of Cabinet meetings and status of government files.
“People of country deserve to know how middleman Michel knew about the time of a meeting of Cabinet on security, about status of a government file, what role he played in delaying procurement of Rafale for 10 long years and what role he played in putting national security in danger,” he added.
On December 29, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had told the Patiala House Court that the alleged Augusta middleman had taken the names of "Mrs Gandhi" and "Son of the Italian lady" during the interrogation. The ED, however, said that it was not yet clear in what reference he named the Gandhis.
The ED had also said that Michel identified how the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was removed from the deal and the VVIP chopper deal was offered to Tata instead. The ED also sought to ban Michel's lawyer's access to him alleging he is being tutored from outside.
"We need to decipher who the "big man" referred to as "R" is in the communication between Christian Michel and other people. We need to confront Michel with other people to decipher who "the big man" or "R" is,” the ED had told the court.
What is AgustaWestland VVIP choppers scam? 10 points
In February 2010, the then Congress-led UPA government had signed a contract with AgustaWestland - the British arm of Italian firm Finmeccanica – to buy 12 AW101 helicopters to ferry VVIPs, including the President of India, the Prime Minister and other important persons. Controversies surrounded the deal after reports that Finmeccanica paid a huge amount of money to several officials and politicians to win the VVIP choppers deal with the Indian Air Force. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had alleged that the deal signed with the AgustaWestland on February 8, 2010, to purchase 12 VVIP helicopters had cost the taxpayers a loss of approx... Read More: What is AgustaWestland VVIP choppers scam? 10-point explainer