Dehradun/New Delhi: The ED’s supplementary chargesheet in the AgustaWestland chopper scam case raised the political temperature ahead of the Lok Sabha polls with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday citing media reports to suggest that names of the Gandhi “family” and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel have emerged in the AgustaWestland chopper deal scam in the context of kickbacks.
Even as the BJP’s star campaigner lashed out at the Opposition party saying that the Congress and corruption have an “unbreakable” relationship, the alleged middleman in the deal, Christian Michel, claimed before a Delhi court that he has not named anyone during investigation.
Ahmed Patel, former Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s political adviser, rubbished the allegations as baseless and said he has full faith in the judiciary for upholding the truth.
Addressing a rally in Dehradun, Mr Modi said that during the Congress rule “corruption accelerated while ‘vikas’ (development) was on ventilator”.
The Prime Minister referred to the scam in the Bofors gun deal as well as the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal along with scams in 2G spectrum allocation, coal block allocation, Commonwealth Games and said, “Be it land, sky or water, there is no resource in the country which the Congress has not looted.”
Mr Modi claimed that Michel, a British national who is an alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore chopper deal for procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland company brought to India from Dubai by the NDA government, had disclosed two names to his interrogators.
“One was ‘AP’ and the other was ‘FAM’. ‘AP’ stands for Ahmed Patel and ‘FAM’ stands for family. Have you heard of Ahmed Patel? Which family is he close to?” he asked the audience at the rally at the parade ground.
Hearing the crowd’s response, Mr Modi said, “You understood automatically. The family cannot tolerate the stern attitude of the chowkidar.”
The Congress said the chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) before a Delhi court on Thursday was a “cheap election stunt” to divert people’s attention from the “imminent defeat” of the Modi government, while senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley insisted that the Opposition party answer as to who were ‘RG’, ‘AP’ and ‘FAM’ in documents cited by the probe agency.
Michel, who alleged that the Central government was using agencies for political agenda, filed an application before Special Judge Arvind Kumar saying that he has “not named anyone in his statement before the agency which is being leaked to media”. The court issued notice to the ED and sought its reply by Saturday.
Earlier, media reports said that the ED in its charge sheet named politicians of the previous UPA dispensation, defence personnel, bureaucrats and journalists as beneficiaries of kickbacks in the controversial defence deal.
Reacting to Mr Modi’s veiled reference to him, Mr Patel said,”In this election season, it is pouring ‘jumlas’. Baseless and laughable charges are raining,” he tweeted in Hindi.
“We have full faith in the judiciary and the truth can never be hidden and shall prevail. It looks like that the ED has become an important part of the NDA,” he said.
“The chowkidar and his cronies have targeted the wrong place without evidence. The ‘dalals’ (middlemen) of note ban and Rafale cannot escape now. The people will teach them a lesson. But, you must have heard the saying that a thief sees a thief in everyone,” Mr Patel said.
Addressing a press conference at the BJP office in Delhi, Mr Jaitley questioned Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s “silence”.
“Right to silence is for accused not for the one who is dreaming to be the country’s Prime Minister,” the finance minister said.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said a ‘panic-stricken’ Modi government is using ‘rehashed insinuations’ through its “puppet” ED, which it dubbed as “Election Dhakosla” (sham) for “manufacturing lies”. — Agencies...