AgustaWestland row: Swamy swats Congress brutally in Rajya Sabha

Subramanian Swamy did what exactly was expected of him -- heat up the debate in Rajya Sabha on the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.

He didn't use any provocative words, nor did he name Congress president Sonia Gandhi directly, but referred to her as "person whom I can't name otherwise you (Chair) will expunge it". That was a smart move on his part, he knew that by saying so, he was making it more than clear as to whom he was referring yet not giving an opportunity to Congress to object him.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. PTI

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. PTI

So much so that while explaining as to who "AP", as mentioned in supposed list of bribe takers was, he said, "I know who he is but will not name him" and a little later he said quoting a portion from Milan Court of Appeal judgment papers he said AP was "political secretary" but "I am not saying to who..." When there was uproar from the Congress benches over this, he repeated "I have not said political secretary to whom". On further provocation and challenges from the Congress "Italians must be crazy to refer someone (AP as political secretary) who was not connected to UPA government". He then used the term "blank blank", to fill up two names in the judgment papers where it refers that Haschke had identified all the Congress leaders including Sonia Gandhi and Ahmed Patel on the court when their photos were shown to him during the trial by the Italian prosecution.

Swamy's got some additional firepower from what lead speaker from Congress ranks Abhishek Manu Singhvi said in his speech. Singhvi had quoted from a letter dated 15 March 2008, seized by investigators, which shows the main middleman in AgustaWestland deal as Christian Michel writing to Peter Hulet, then India region sales and liaison head of the helicopter company. Michel is still a fugitive. The letter stated that Sonia is the main driving force behind this deal and she will no longer fly in the existing MI- 8 choppers... This letter is quoted verbatim in the judgment. Singhvi quoted from the letter to suggest it means nothing against Sonia Gandhi. Moreover as was proved in Jain Hawala case that such entries did not have legal sanctity as evidence.

Few days ago, Swamy had tried to quote the same and the Congress members had created a ruckus inside the House, some even advanced towards him with fingers raised at him. His remark on Sonia and her name was expunged by the Chair. So when Swamy rose today, he spoke of Singhvi's quotes from the same source to argue that "there is no law that I can't quote from a letter but other member from the same House can."

Swamy even had something to say about Brajesh Mishra, the then national security advisor and principal secretary to prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had noted the flying height worthiness of eligible choppers from 6,000 meters to 4,500 meters be reduced or else that would lead to a single vendor situation. "He was a civil servant in NDA government. After you (UPA) came, you decorated him with Padma Vibhshan only one less than Bharat Ratna. Why? One day I will find it out," Swamy said sarcastically referring to Mishra.

Like a lawyer arguing in court of law, he began with three opening premises—admitted facts, criminality and how to proceed in investigations—on which he had to make arguments to make build his case against Congress.

As he spoke it was clear that he had full backing of the BJP leadership. The BJP withdrew all its other speakers to give adequate time to him. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and his deputy Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi coming in for full throttled support whenever Congress objected to his utterances.

Swamy can have the satisfaction of getting a back handed compliment from Congress's deputy leader in the House, Anand Sharma. The Congress leader who spoke immediately after Swamy termed him "BJP's gift" said some of you are very happy today, some concerned, you never know which way your gift would turn his canon tomorrow". He recalled the time when Swamy had turned against Vajpayee.

Another senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel called him "gentleman on other side, don't want to take his name". He perhaps didn't want to engage him directly. Patel admitted that his name has been mentioned four times in Italian court judgment papers but "where is the indictment, has anybody made an accused. If gentleman sitting there can prove, I will resign. If you can find an iota of truth after investigations are done, I will resign and quit from public life....You (BJP)control your own party and persons (likes of Swamy)."

Swamy had played his part by igniting the atmosphere in Parliament for Congress to react and for Parrikar to make a "factual" presentation.

Updated Date: May 04, 2016 22:51 PM

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