Former Union defence minister AK Antony on Monday said that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi never interfered in any deals or defence procurement, including AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal. Defending the previous UPA government over the deal, Antony pointed he only had ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the AgustaWestland deal.
“As former Defence Minister, during my time the procurement of AgustaWestland took place. I would like to say, categorically, that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi never interfered in deals and procurement,” said the veteran Congress leader. “AgustaWestland was selected after evaluation by team of officials,” he added.
“The moment report came from Italy that there is corruption in this case, I only ordered CBI enquiry, not this government. Then our government took an unusual decision to fight this case in Italy against AgustaWestland. Ultimately, we won the case,” the former defence minister further said.
According to Antony, the former UPA government initiated a prob whenever media reports talked about corruption in any deal. He also questioned the track record of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government with regard to deals and corruption charges.
“Whenever media reported about corruption in a deal, we initiated an inquiry. We took decision to blacklist five to six powerful companies, including one American, Russian and Singapore company. That was our track record, but what is the track record of the present government?” said the Congress leader.
This comes two days after the Enforcement Directorate revealed that alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland case Christian Michel had named 'Mrs Gandhi' and 'son of the Italian lady' during questioning, triggering a war of words between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The BJP alleged that the former Congress-led government compromised with national security. "The revelations by ED show that there is ‘son of Italian lady’, ‘big man’ and ‘R’ involved. It points to a family. Congress government was a govt of corruption that compromised with national security," Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said.
The Congress, however, alleged that there was pressure on Michel to name a family. Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, Congress spokesperson RPN Singh said: "There is pressure on Michel to name a particular family, why is the chowkidaar trying to pressurise the government agencies to name a family? BJP scriptwriters are working over time."
(With ANI inputs)