A day after the ED, probing the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case, filed its supplementary chargesheet detailing the statement of alleged middleman Christian Michel James and claimed that kickbacks had been paid, Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought it up at an election rally Friday. He said “this chargesheet says that AP means Ahmed Patel, and FAM means family… tell me, which family is Ahmed Patel close to, which family is he close to… who gobbled up the helicopter bribe”.
Targeting the Congress leadership, Modi told a rally in Dehradun: “You will recall that your chowkidar had brought back from Dubai some of the helicopter scam middlemen. The agencies questioned Italy’s Michel mama and other middlemen for several weeks, based on which a chargesheet has been filed in court. I saw in the media that among those the helicopter scam middlemen were said to have paid bribes, there was one AP, AP, and the second FAM, FAM. This chargesheet says AP means Ahmed Patel and FAM means family.”
In New Delhi, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while targeting Congress president Rahul Gandhi, said “any diary is a written admission and is admissible against the writer, especially when there is corroborating evidence. It is also admissible against fellow accused if it was written at the same time as the conspiracy was being hatched. This law was passed by the Privy Council in the Mirza Akbar case”.
Jaitley did not take names but he was was referring to the ED claim of an entry ‘RG’ in a diary of Sushen Mohan Gupta, an accused in the chopper deal case who is in custody. The ED has told a Delhi court that “Sushen is not coming out with true and correct fact” in “identifying who the real ‘RG’ is” in the diary.
In tweets Friday, Jaitley said: “There is an erroneous belief among Indian politicians that a diary is never admissible as evidence. A diary constitutes an admission in writing and is admissible against the maker of that admission. It is admissible against the other co-conspirators as well.”
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“Arguments of probity in the public space demand more answers. Are ‘RG’, ‘AP’ and ‘FAM’ fictional characters or were they in a position to influence the deal? How come every time there is a controversial defence deal and evidence is collected, names close to the Congress Party’s first family start appearing? Who are these ‘RG’, ‘AP’ and ‘FAM’? Are they fictional characters who influenced the deal? The Right to Silence is available to an accused, not to a Prime Ministerial aspirant,” he tweeted.
“Rahul Gandhi has kept silence over his sweetheart deals which is resort of an accused not an aspiring prime ministerial candidate. The Documents surfaced in AgustaWestland scam mentions initials like AP, RG, FAM, who are they?” he said.
On the Congress allegation that the ED has been working at the behest of the government, Jaitley said it cannot be a coincidence that the same initials appear in documents recovered from Christian Michel and Rajiv Saxena after they were extradited and in those recovered by Swiss police in 2013 when the UPA was in power.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Ahmed Patel, in a series of tweets, said: “It is election season and the rain of rhetoric has started. There is a shower of baseless and hilarious allegations. We have full faith in the judiciary that the truth can never be hushed up. Milk and water will be sifted. Looks like ED is now an integral ally in the NDA. But such tactics will not work. You cannot escape from real issues like unemployment, farm distress and traders’ problems. It is clear that the Modi government is rattled… the middlemen of Rafale and demonetisation cannot escape. You must have heard the saying that a thief thinks everyone is a thief.”
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