With the BJP attacking the Nehru-Gandhi family over the AgustaWestland case to counter Rahul Gandhi’s Rafale fire, the Congress Sunday went on a counter-offensive, alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the protector, benefactor and promoter of AgustaWestland. It said the ED has become an “embarrassing disaster” under the Modi government.
The Congress argued that the UPA government had taken action against AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica ever since irregularities came to light, whereas the Modi government only helped it.
Congress communication department in charge Randeep Surjewala said the UPA II government had ordered a CBI inquiry into the deal in 2013 in the wake of media reports suggesting irregularities in the Rs 3,546-contract for purchasing 12 helicopters. It cancelled the contract in January 2014 and initiated proceedings to blacklist AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica, encashed bank guarantees worth Rs 240 crore given by the company and filed a case against the company in Italy.
On the other hand, Surjewala said, the Modi government lifted the ban on AgustaWestland in July 2014, invited Agusta Westland/Finmeccanica to Aero India-2015 making it a part of Make in India in 2015, cleared a proposal for a joint venture between the firm and an Indian company to produce military helicopters in 2015, and allowed it to bid for 100 naval utility helicopters in 2017. He argued that the Modi government had chosen not to appeal after it lost the case in international courts.
“One thing is now clear that Chowkidaar is Daagdar (watchman is tainted) and Daamdar both. Modi government is the benefactor, protector and supporter of AgustaWestland and they are making a lot of noise to hide their own thievery,” Surjewala said.