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Middleman brings BJP and Congress in a fix

An alleged middleman who India is desperate to question for the corrupt AgustaWestland deal has confirmed to a News channel that in 2008, he did describe Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in a letter as “the driving force” of the decision to acquire new helicopters for use by top politicians when her party was last in power. However, Christian Michel James, who is based in Dubai, also said that he does not personally know either Mrs Gandhi or her son, Rahul, who is the Congress vice-president, and stressed that his written suggestion that they be lobbied by diplomats does not mean bribes were paid to them.

Recently, a Milan court sentenced the former bosses of Finmeccanica and its AgustaWestland unit to jail terms for corruption in the India deal. Documents it referred to included letters from middlemen that mentioned Mrs. Gandhi and other Congress leaders as people to pursue or influence to land the deal. The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, which tackles financial crimes, are trying to piece together who was bribed in India for the helicopter scam. In Parliament, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the Congress’ misdoings stand exposed. Congress lawmakers walked out in protest, demanding that the Supreme Court monitor the investigation into the helicopter deal, which was signed in 2010 and cancelled in 2014.

However, the middle man Michel said that he stands by his earlier claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year met with his Italian counterpart in New York, and offered to release two Italian marines imprisoned in India on murder charges in exchange for information about the Agusta deal that could embarrass or implicate Mrs. Gandhi. In denying that its top bosses are linked to the Agusta scam, the Congress had questioned the authenticity of the note Mr. Michel verified. Other letters of imprisoned executives from Agusta, an Anglo-Italian firm, also name-checked Mrs. Gandhi and top Congress leaders; the papers were reviewed by a Milan court  which has found Agusta guilty of paying bribes in India. The verdict – delivered a few weeks ago – has given the BJP considerable ammo in resuscitating the Agusta scandal as a national controversy and alleging new proof of the complicity of the Congress’ top bosses in the helicopter swindle. The order, worth Rs. 3,600 crores, was cancelled in 2014 after the Italian investigation ramped up.  Mr. Michel has over the last few months repeatedly claimed that when Mr. Modi was in New York last year for a UN summit, he met on the sidelines with the Italian premier to solicit details gleaned from the Italian investigation that could be used against Mrs. Gandhi.

The Congress is now anxious by allegations of corruption that it has launched a protest, BJP and its leaders accused Mrs. Gandhi being involved in chopper scam and also attacked her saying Congress blocked investigations into, corrupt payments linked to an order of a dozen helicopters from Agusta, owned by Italian defense giant Finmeccanica. Congress president Sonia Gandhi refuted the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) allegations over AgustaWestland case and dared the ruling party to prove charges. She claimed that all the allegations against her in the VVIP chopper deal are baseless and part of the BJP’s strategy of character assassination. She said they have nothing to hide. She asked for proofs and alleged BJP stating it’s a part of their strategy of character assassination. The Italian court ruling states how the firm lobbied with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her close aides besides the then NSA MK Narayanan and the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.  Gandhi was described as the “driving force” by the judge behind the AugustaWestland deal.

Subramanian Swamy, who took oath as the newly-nominated member of Rajya Sabha, spearheaded the BJP’s attack against Sonia Gandhi and the Congress in Rajya Sabha. BJP had appointed Meenakshi Lekhi to lead the attack against Congress in Lok Sabha. From social network to Rajya Sabha the party randomly attacked Congress and its president but interestingly, the united Congress including Manmohan Singh came in defence of Gandhi’s and took aggressive stand against BJP. But “I have to prove they are innocent to prove my innocence” is more than enough to understand who are involved and what he would do to prove Gandhis are innocent, this statement coming from middle man is much more serious to look into. Meanwhile , his claim that Modi offered to exchange marines against evidence to shame Gandhi’s, that indicate that Modi is least interested in justice to those dead fishermen, but only interested in shaming Gandhi’s? If the statement about meeting in New York is not to be taken seriously, then so does his other statements, but his one statement is not taken seriously then it’s better to ignore other claim. Right now, the middle man brought BJP and Congress into a great fix. Let’s see, how the politics move ahead in this issue.


 (Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected])

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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