HYDERABAD: Hitting out at ruling BJP dispensation at the Centre, the Congress party on Wednesday accused the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government of forcing AgustaWestland bribery case middleman Christian Michel to sign false statement naming UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
The Congress party also accused the Prime Minister of being the "protector, benefactor and promoter" of AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica.
''The Congress government had investigated against AgustaWestland company, blacklisted it and recovered money from the company. When Narendra Modi Ji came to power, he protected, benefited and lifted the blacklist off the company,'' Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
Randeep Surjewala, Congress in Hyderabad: Congress government had investigated against #AgustaWestland company, blacklisted it and recovered money from the company. When Modi Ji came, he protected, benefited and lifted the blacklist off the company. pic.twitter.com/XxyH8Q15ID
— ANI (@ANI) December 5, 2018
The main opposition party also demanded a CBI probe into PM Modi`s role in "exonerating" the Italian defence and aerospace major which was blacklisted by the UPA.
Citing Christian Michel's advocate Rosemary Patrizi Dos Anjos' July 17 statement, Surjewala said, "the Modi government and its agencies were forcing Michel to sign a false confessional statement naming UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in return for complete exoneration from any charge whatsoever in the AgustaWestland Case".
"Even Michel`s sister had come out and reiterated the coercions of falsely naming opposition leaders as a ticket for exoneration of Christian Michel. Their interviews were recorded by many Indian TV channels also," Surjewala said.
"Never before in the history of India has a Prime Minister been found complicit in gaining false evidence against Opposition leaders to seek revenge.
"This shocking expose is also a testimony to the disease prevailing in CBI/ED prostrating before the Prime Minister to collect fake and false evidence with a single minded aim of tarnishing the reputation of opposition leaders and serving the political masters as a captive puppet and a willing tool of malicious conspiracy," the Congress leader alleged.
The Congress attack on the Centre came on a day when both PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah hit out at the main opposition party saying Michel, who has taken Sonia Gandhi`s name, "will spill the beans" on the deal during the UPA government's tenure.
Responding to their allegations, Congress alleged that the Modi government was indulging in cover-up to "hide its sinister role in helping and promoting the AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica which were blacklisted by the UPA.
"The most intriguing part of the conspiracy is the undisclosed reason on part of Modi government for permitting a blacklisted company to get clearances from Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and permit its entry as partner or sub-contractor to various Indian corporates,'' Surjewala said.
"Not only this, the Modi government also sought a special opinion from its Attorney General in July, 2014 and permitted AgustaWestland/Finmeccanica to be part of Make in India and bid for 100 Naval Utility Helicopters, besides clearing its investment proposals through FIPB for manufacture of AW119 helicopters in partnership with Tata," Surjewala added.
Surjewala said that it was time for the CBI to investigate PM Modi`s role in exonerating AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica instead of "weaving fake story to deflect attention".
It may be noted that the British national, Christian Michel James, a middleman wanted in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case, was extradited to India late on Tuesday.
He was sent to a five-day CBI custody by a special court in connection with the case on Wednesday.