Hyderabad: Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being the "protector, benefactor and promoter" of AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica, the Congress on Wednesday demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the prime minister's role in "exonerating" the Italian defence and aerospace major which was blacklisted by the United progressive Alliance (UPA).
A day after British national Christian Michel James, a middleman wanted in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case, was extradited to India, the Congress attacked Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of "using him to launch a smear campaign" against Opposition leaders.
Citing Michel's advocate Rosemary Patrizi Dos Anjos' 17 July statement, Congress spokesperosn Randeep Singh 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," said Surjewala.
"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," alleged Surjewala.
The Congress attack came on a day when both Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah hit out at the Congress saying Michel who has taken Sonia Gandhi's name, "will spill the beans" on the deal during the UPA government's tenure.
However, the 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," Surjewal 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," said Surjewala.
The Congress said it was time for the CBI to investigate Modi's role in exonerating AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica instead of "weaving fake story to deflect attention".
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Updated Date: Dec 05, 2018 18:26 PM