AgustaWestland: Congress now poses three counter questions to BJP

New Delhi, April 29 (IANS) Asserting that the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) is expert at levelling allegations, the Congress Party on Saturday accused the former of conspiring against it and asked three counter questions in connection with the ongoing debate on the AgustaWestland chopper deal controversy.

Alleging that the BJP was making ‘mountain out of a molehill’, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked if the AgustaWestland was a ‘fraud’ company, then why did the government allow it to participate in several of defence related events, such as the Defence Expo. “Amit Shah and BJP are experts of levelling allegations, they are making a mountain out of a molehill.

They are conspiring against the Congress and its leadership, but truth will prvail as empty vessels make more noise,” he told ANI. “Amit Shah raised three questions, we now seek answers for three questions. Amit Shah says that AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica are fraud companies.

If AgustaWestland is a fraud company then why are they protecting it for two years? Why was AgustaWestland part of the Defence Expo? If it is fraud then why did your government give FIPB permission it on October 8, 2015?…If it is a fraud company then is your government part of that fraud,” he further asked. Continuing his tirade against Congress president Sonia Gandhi, BJP president Amit Shah had on Friday posed series of questions and sought Sonia Gandhi’s answer in the matter.

Highlighting that the tender could be signed only by the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), the BJP president questioned AgustaWestland’s signing the tender despite not being the original manufacturer. Shah questioned Gandhi that under whose direction the provisions in tender was tempered with. Shah also questioned that when the deal of the helicopters had happened, the field evaluation trial was to be done in India and later it was changed.

Shah pressed that if such permission of changes in the tender was given by the then defence minister A.K. Antony, Congress chief answer for the same. James Christian Michel, the accused middleman in the chopper deal, has offered himself up for questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Michel told The Hindu from Dubai earlier this week that he was willing to answer all questions from the Indian investigators in order ‘to clear’ his name, but insisted he had never met the Congress president or a ‘single Gandhi’ in his life. Agusta Westland’s Rs 3,600 crore contract for supplying 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force was scrapped by the UPA government over charges of paying kickbacks to Indian agents. In January 2013, India cancelled the deal and the CBI was assigned to investigate the matter.