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HomeEditorialWhy BJP chests beating on Agusta Westland? - Part II

Why BJP chests beating on Agusta Westland? – Part II

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On 25 February 2013, CBI registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) against 11 persons, including the former Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi, and his cousins, besides four companies. After carrying out the preliminary enquiry, the CBI found sufficient evidence and registered an FIR on 13 March. The FIR named 13 persons.

In September 2015, a special CBI court issued an open non-bailable warrant (NBW) against Christian Michel based on CBI that he was needed to be questioned in the case to know how much amount he had received as “commission” in the deal. Enforcement Directorate (ED) is investigating money laundering allegations. In March 2015, the ED traced and identified the properties worth around Rs.1.12 crore owned by Christian Michel and issued a provisional attachment order. The ED claimed that Michel bought a flat in south Delhi’s Safdarjung Enclave in the name of media firm Media Exim using the bribe money.

As I mentioned in previous editorial, India had cancelled the Rs. 3,600 crore deal with AgustaWestland in January 2014. The government cancelled the contract “on grounds of breach of the Pre-contract Integrity Pact and the agreement by AWIL (AgustaWestland International Ltd)”. The contract was frozen in February 2013 after allegations surfaced that Rs. 360 crore was paid as bribe.

The CBI approached Union Law Ministry to record statements of M. K. Narayanan and B V Wanchoo in January 2014. M K Narayanan and B V Wanchoo were West Bengal and Goa Governors respectively at the time of CBI’s request. Their statements were considered vital as they were national security adviser and Special Protection Group (SPG) chief at the time of signing of contract with AgustaWestland. Their views were also considered before Indian Government signed the contract with AgustaWestland. However then Kapil Sibal’s Union Law Ministry stonewalled CBI probe by rejecting CBI’s request to examine them under the usual excuse of ‘immunity’. The CBI therefore approached President Pranab Mukherjee to seek permission to examine ex-NSA and ex-SPG. M. K. Narayanan and B V Wanchoo were questioned by CBI later in June 2014 and July 2014 respectively.

After the cancellation of the contract, India encashed over Rs. 250 crore made by AgustaWestland as bank guarantee in the Indian banks in January 2014. Separately, India requested the Italian government to retrieve the bank guarantee amount made by the firm in Italian banks which was more than €275 million (Rs. 2364 crore). On 17 March 2014, request made by India was rejected by the Italian court. However, the appellate court, Milan reversed the lower court’s judgement and upheld the claims of the Indian government. Accordingly, in June 2014, Indian government encashed Rs. 1818 crore taking the total amount recovered so far to Rs. 2068 crore. With this, India has recovered the entire amount of around Rs.1620 crore (45% of total contract value Rs. 3600 crore) it had paid to AgustaWestland.

The Italian court investigating the case in October 2014, acquitted the ex-IAF chief S.P. Tyagi of all corruption charges. It also acquitted the former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi and former AgustaWestland head Bruno Spagnolini of “charges of international corruption” .The court, however, convicted and sentenced them to two years in prison on the lesser charge of “false invoicing” in the case.

In July 2014, the prosecution had shelved proceedings against Finmeccanica for alleged corruption. It was reported that the prosecution found the company had nothing to do with the alleged corruption. Quoting a statement by Finmeccanica, it said, “AgustaWestland has agreed to pay a fine, while reiterating it knew nothing about the alleged bribery.”

Now, marking a significant shift in its strategy, the BJP has now decided to directly target Sonia Gandhi, the Congress president, as one of the main beneficiaries in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.

The issue came up for discussion at the parliamentary party meeting of the BJP. The strategy was fine-tuned later at a meeting between party chief Amit Shah, and finance minister Arun Jaitley.

The ruling dispensation has been under attack from the Opposition in general, and the Congress party in particular, over a range of issues. It has now decided to aggressively hit back and try and put its opponents on the back foot.

Sonia Gandhi and Congress is challenging BJP to find the facts and if they have enough proofs then take action against them, where are BJP is just gossip mongering in Media and social network but failed to prove their allegations so far.

 (Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on feedback@www.afternoonvoice.com)

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Tamanhttps://authorvaidehi.com
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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