The extradition of Christian Michel – the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers scam case – has intensified the political bitterness between the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress with both parties accusing each other of having close ties with the firm in question. A day after Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala’s attack against the BJP for removing AgustaWestland from blacklist, the BJP has hit back and accused the Grand Old Party of sending a “team” of lawyers to save Michel.
Addressing a press conference, BJP spokesperson Sambit patra said that the extradition of Michel is giving sleepless nights to the “family” in Congress, therefore, the party sent a team of lawyers to save him.
“The Congress is rattled after the extradition of Christian Michel. They sent their team to save Michel. Congress's Aljo Joseph appeared for him in Court, they later went through the charade of removing him. The family in Congress is getting sleepless nights,” Patra said.
The BJP leader said that while the Congress removed Joseph, two other lawyers of the alleged middleman in AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal - Vishnu Shankar and Sriram Parakkat – were associated with the party.
“Other than Aljo Joseph, there are two other lawyers of Christian Michel, Vishnu Shankar who is the son of a Kerala Congress leader and Sriram Parakkat who has been an NSUI member. All 3 have worked under big Cong lawyers like Salman Khurshid and Kapil Sibal,” he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Congress leader Surjewala had said that the Congress party, in whose tenure the alleged scam took place, had recovered Rs 2,954 crore against the Rs 1,620 crore paid to AgustaWestland as part of the VVIP choppers deal.
“The Congress government had seized Rs 240 crore deposited as bank guarantee by AgustaWestland. The Congress government even fought a case in the Italy court and also seized the international guarantee,” Surjewala had said.
However, the Congress leader, added that when the Narendra Modi government came in power, it brought “Acche Din” (good days) for AgustaWestland as the company was removed from the blacklist.
“What is the relationship between the Modi government and AgustaWestland called? ‘Acche Din’ came for the company soon after the Modi government came into the power. On July 22, 2014 the Modi government removed AgustaWestland from the blacklist,” the Congress leader said.
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Surjewala further added that the Narendra Modi government not just removed AgustaWestland from the blacklist, it also awarded the company a contract of 100 Naval Utility helicopters.
The investigators of the AgustaWestland VVIP choppers scam case claim that Michel was one of the three middlemen who brokered the deal and bribed officials and politicians to bag the contract. He was brought to India on Tuesday night after extradition from the UAE.