'Target' Sonia, her key advisers: Middleman told AgustaWestland

The Congress party came in for a shocker today when a letter allegedly written by AgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel to the firm's then India chief Peter Hulett asked the executive to 'target' key advisers to Congress president Sonia Gandhi including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to get the VVIP chopper deal passed.

"As Mrs Gandhi is the driving force behind the VIP, she will not fly any more in the Mi 8. Mrs Gandhi and her closest advisers are the people the High Commissioner should target," the letter said.

An AgustaWestland chopper. Reuters

An AgustaWestland chopper. Reuters

The letter, which is in possession of CNN-IBN, named top Congress leaders Manmohan Singh, Ahmed Patel, Pranab Mukherjee, Vearrappa Moily, Oscar Fernandes, MK Narayanan and Vinay Singh as the top advisers to the Congress chief.

For the national party, which is already showing clear signs of struggle while attempting to retain power in the forthcoming Lok Sabha Elections this year, the news could not have come at a worse time.

"The March 2008 note, which has been sent by the elusive Christian Michel to Peter Hulett, the then Head of Region, Govt Sales at the AgustaWestland India office, is one of the many documents that Italian investigators seized from the office of Switzerland based middleman Guido Haschke who is currently facing trial in the case of alleged 51 million euro kickbacks generated in the Indian VVIP chopper deal"—said an Indian Express story.

Reacting to the revelation, sources in the PMO told CNN-IBN, "Deal is cancelled, will act against those involving in slanderous activities."

Christian Michel's letter to Peter Hulett?

Christian Michel's letter to Peter Hulett?

The CBI on its part said that it has taken note of the report targetting Sonia aides. The veracity of the letter is yet to be established, the CNN-IBN report said.

Soon after the letter was out in public domain, political reactions were quick to come.

"This suspicion was always there. This is like a piece of huge evidence. Our fears are that this case could also go in the direction of the Bofors case," BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi told CNN-IBN.

It may be mentioned that Michel was in India exactly 10 days before filing of the preliminary enquiry by the CBI in February 2013.

Between 12 January and 14 February last year, the middleman flew in and out of India six times while between 2011 and 2012, the middleman came to India 31 times.


Updated Date: Feb 02, 2014 09:47 AM

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