Prime Minister Narendra Modi led BJP government at the Centre made AgustaWestland a part of ‘Make in India’ by removing the firm from the list of blacklisted helicopter design and manufacturing companies, said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala on Sunday.
Addressing a press conference here, Surjewala called the Central government “a benefactor, protector, abettor, and supporter of AgustaWestland.” “Why did Prime Minister Modi permit a blacklisted company like AgustaWestland to bid for 100 helicopters for Indian Navy,” he asked.
“Modiji, why did your government remove AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica from the blacklist? Why did you permit a blacklisted company like AgustaWestland to manufacture AW119 helicopters by giving them permission through FIPB? How did your government lose all the cases internationally against AgustaWestland and why have you chosen not to appeal,” he further asked Prime Minister Modi.
“We initiated the investigation on 12/02/2013. FIR was lodged and we were ready for the JPC but BJP backed out from the JPC. Media reports have elaborated as to how Christian Michel’s sister and mother revealed in July 2018 that the Indian Prime Minister and Enforcement Directorate (ED) pressurised him to make false and fabricated statements against Congress leadership,” Surjewala said.
The ED on Saturday told a Delhi court that the alleged middleman in AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam Michel had named ‘Mrs Gandhi,’ but did not specify in which context the reference was made. “He has also spoken about ‘the son of the Italian lady’ and how he is going to become the ‘next prime minister’ of the country,” ED’s counsel told the court.
Following the revelation made by the ED on Michel’s statements, the court sent him to seven-day remand.
The Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal, finalised during the previous government headed by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, got mired in the allegations of kickbacks.
According to the ED charge sheet, Michel had received kickbacks to the tune of 30 million Euros from AgustaWestland for the deal involving the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters. The deal, signed in 2007, was scrapped in 2013 following the bribery allegation.