Subramanian Swamy targets Sonia Gandhi over AgustaWestland chopper scam: Here’s all you need to knowhttps://indianexpress.com/photos/picture-gallery-others/subramanian-swamy-targets-sonia-gandhi-over-agustawestland-vvip-chopper-scam-2774853/

Subramanian Swamy targets Sonia Gandhi over AgustaWestland chopper scam: Here’s all you need to know

Angry exchanges between opposition Congress and ruling BJP members over Subramaniam Swamy seeking to drag Sonia Gandhi’s name in the controversial AgustaWestland helicopter contract bribery case led to uproar in the Rajya Sabha.

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The gloves were off inside and outside Parliament on Wednesday with the BJP and Congress trading charges over alleged payoffs in the supply of 12 AgustaWestland helicopters to India after an Italian appeals court handed prison terms to former chiefs of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland on corruption charges. Using the conviction of Finmeccanica’s former chief by an Italian court in connection with the contract, the BJP asked then Defence Minister A K Antony to name Congress leaders allegedly involved in the scandal.

The Congress party hit out at the BJP after the party’s Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy told the Upper House that party chief Sonia Gandhi had been named in the court proceedings into the allegations of corruption in the Agusta Westland deal in Italy. The House was disrupted as the Congress members protested against Swamy’s comments. However, Gandhi’s name was later expunged by Deputy Chairman P J Kurien. (Source: Express photo by Neeraj Priyadarshi)
READ Read in detail about the VVIP chopper deal

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Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday told Rajya Sabha that “the bribe-giver has been convicted and now the bribe-taker has to be identified”. He said the written admission by the alleged middleman (James Christian Michel) has to be examined and an “investigation is underway”.

The government also rejected Michel’s claim of a purported meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Italian counterpart Renzi in New York last September. The Ministry of External Affairs, while denying any meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, said that red corner notices had been issued against Michel by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate to seek his extradition to India. (Source: Express photo by Neeraj Priyadarshi)
READ Govt says bribe-giver convicted, will identify taker, Sonia Gandhi says do the probe

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Sonia Gandhi reacted to Swamy's allegations and said: “I am not afraid of anyone cornering me as there is no basis to that. All accusations they are throwing at us are false. Where is the proof? They are lying… this is part of a strategy of character assassination which we have known these people indulge in. The government is there for the last two years. What are they doing? Inquiry is there, why don’t they complete it? Complete it as soon as possible, impartially, so that the truth will come out.”

Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala hit back saying that if anybody needs to answer questions on the matter it is the Modi government. He said the UPA governement had included an integrity clause as per which the contract for purchase of helicopters from Agusta Westland was cancelled, the guarantee forfeited and process initiated for recovery of money. Surjewala said that the money too was recovered and “not a single rupee loss was caused to the Government of India.” (Source: Express photo by Neeraj Priyadarshi)

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Outside the Parliament, over the VVIP chopper deal there are four references to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the verdict delivered by the Milan Court of Appeals.

These references relate to two documents recovered from the suitcase of alleged middleman Guido Haschke during his arrest by the Italian police in Switzerland.
One of the documents was a note titled “budget expenditure items”. The hand-written note mentioned coded references to bureaucrats, politicians and IAF officers against amounts earmarked to be paid to them. The other document is a typed letter dated March 15, 2008, and written to Peter Hulet, then India region sales and liaison head of AgustaWestland, mentioning the names of Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, Pranab Mukherjee and Manmohan Singh as “targets” in the VVIP deal. Both the documents were purportedly written by alleged middleman Christian Michel.

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Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel, whose name has also evolved in the scam rejected allegations against himself and the party. “Absolutely baseless,” he told reporters. He said the government should hang him if he is guilty. “This government, when they are saying all these things outside and inside Parliament, why can’t they investigate,” he said.

"I was told that this accused (James Christian Michel), whom I don’t know, nor can I remember his name correctly, has written two letters to PM. He claims that PM of India met PM of Italy and they wanted to drag Sonia Gandhi in the case. If that could be done, then India would release the accused Italian marines. The ED which has been working under the Modi government has already completed its preliminary investigation and established the trail of money. It didn’t name a single member of the Congress party. So does the Modi government or does it not believe its own ED?" Patel said in an interview with the Indian Express. (Source: Express archive photo by Anil Sharma)

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Angry exchanges between opposition Congress and ruling BJP members over Subramaniam Swamy seeking to drag Sonia Gandhi’s name in the controversial AgustaWestland helicopter contract bribery case led to two adjournments of the Rajya Sabha in the pre-noon session.
Swamy had raised the issue through a zero hour notice, his first intervention since he took oath in the House yesterday, and referred to the allegations made by Christian Micheal, the middleman in the scandal, through a letter in the High Court of Italy.

Fearing an ugly showdown, a couple of marshalls too stepped into the Well to act as a wall between the opposition and the ruling side.

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When the House reassembled, Kurien expunged Swamy’s reference to Gandhi saying he should not name a member who cannot come and defend himself or herself. “I am not admonishing you as this is your first speech in the House” after being nominated to the Upper House. “But the name is expunged,” Kurien said.

Kurien said though it was Swamy’s first day today after being nominated to the Rajya Sabha, “you have been member of this House before and you should know that the name of a member of the other House cannot be taken here”.