Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday racked up the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal issue and lashed out at the Congress for allegedly working at the behest of middlemen in the defence sector, instead of running a government for the people, during the UPA rule. Addressing a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rally Baripada, Modi alleged that there was a conspiracy to weaken the country's defence forces during 2004-2014 and the revelation of facts was now "paining" the Congress leaders.
"Therefore, they want to remove the chowkidar (watchman) from their path at any cost. Be it the society or factories, thieves always try and conspire to remove the chowkidar to make their task easy. As long as the chowkidar remains, they are unable to operate," he said.
"This also pains them (Congress leaders) because their secrecy is now coming to the fore," Modi said, adding that there were reports that a letter of the middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, Christian Michel, who has recently been brought to India from Dubai, had revealed that they had close ties with top Congress leaders and ministers.
Modi claimed the middleman knew the movement of files in the Prime Minister's Office and even the details of deliberations of the Cabinet Committee on defence.
"Perhaps, middlemen had more information than the prime minister himself," he said.
#WATCH PM: Samajh nahi aata ki Congress ne sarkar chalayi hai ya apne Michel mama ka darbar chalaya hai. Mai aaj spasht kar dena chahta hu, desh ke bajaay bichauliyo ke hiton ki raksha mein jis-jis ki bhumika rahi hai, unka poora hisaab jaanch agency karegi, desh ki janta karegi. pic.twitter.com/g7AhhkJEyg— ANI (@ANI) January 5, 2019
"I want to make it clear that the role of people in protecting the interest of middlemen at the cost of the country will thoroughly be probed by agencies and the people of the country. The Centre always takes hard decisions for the country's security," he said, while asking the crowd whether the Congress should be allowed to do what it was doing during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule.
Earlier in the day, describing that they are New Year gifts to the people of Odisha, Modi launched a number of central government projects in Odisha worth more than Rs 4,500 crore. This was Modi’s second visit to Odisha in less than two weeks. In the last visit on December 24, Modi had unveiled some projects in Bhubaneswar and addressed a BJP rally near the historic Khurda town.
Modi inaugurated projects related to road highways and transport, petroleum and natural gas, railways, culture, tourism and passport services. Some key projects include four-laning of three major national highways in Odisha, laying of a section of a key LPG pipeline and doubling of an important railway line.
The prime minister also flagged off a new passenger train on a route, unveiled multi-modal logistics hub in Balasore and a project for restoration and conservation of historical site of Haripurgarh.
He also inaugurated passport sewa kendras at post offices in Bhadrak, Cuttack, Jajpur, Aska, Keonjhar and Dhenkanal through video conferencing. Currently, people have to go to the regional passport office at Bhubaneswar, officials added.
The inaugurations by Modi came ahead of the general election, which is due in a few months' time. The assembly polls in Odisha are also slated to be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls.
(With inputs from PTI)