New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress indulged in blame game after Enforcement Directorate (ED) revealed that alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland case Christian Michel has named ‘Mrs Gandhi’ and ‘son of the Italian lady’ during interrogation. While the BJP said that the ED’s statement in court pointed towards involvement of Gandhis in the AgustaWestland deal, the Congress alleged that the central government has been using agencies to malign a particular family.
“The revelations by ED show that there is ‘son of Italian lady’, ‘big man’ and ‘R’ involved. It points to a family. Congress government was a govt of corruption that compromised with national security,” Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said, launching a scathing attack on the grand old party.
Javadekar further said that one thing is clear that the NDA facilitated Michel’s extradition while the Congress helped him by sending a lawyer. He also accused the Congress of temporarily suspending its party leader Aljo Joseph, who is representing Michel in the court.
Pointing towards a slip being passed by Michel to his lawyer Joseph in the ED custody which referred to a set of questions related to ‘Mrs Gandhi’, the Union Minister said, “They have given a chit and they were tutoring him. So the court today gave seven-day custody to the ED and also limited the timing of meeting of Michel’s lawyer for 15 minutes, both in morning and evening.”
Echoing similar views, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad accused Rahul Gandhi of showering Prime Minister Narendra Modi with abuses and asserted that “today is the time for the Gandhi family to explain” following the ED’s (ED) statement in court.
“He (Michel) has taken Sonia ji’s name and also given indication about Rahul Gandhi in a chit passed to his lawyer. The ‘Raajdar’ (one carrying secrets), Michel, is disclosing the involvement of others. Today is the time for the Gandhi family to explain. As far as the Congress is concerned no deal is complete without a deal,” the Law Minister claimed.
Congress Hits Back
The Congress party on the other hand, rejected all the charge, saying that the central government has been using agencies to implicate the Gandhi family. “The 2019 Lok Sabha elections are not far away… The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) devoid of any issue is shamelessly misusing and abusing central agencies to malign the Gandhi family,” Congress leader RPN Singh said.
Referring to Michel advocate’s July 17 statement, wherein he (advocate) claimed that the Modi government is forcing Michel to sign a false confessional statement naming Sonia Gandhi in return for complete exoneration, Singh said,”It is already known that Michel was being pressurised to do so even before he was extradited to India.”
The Congress leader also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the ongoing controversy over Rafale deal. “The entire country knows what the ‘chowkidar’ is. Instead of hiding behind the ED and the CBI, the Prime Minister should come out and face questions on the scam,” Singh added.
What ED Revealed in Delhi Court:
Giving a dramatic twist in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal case, the Enforcement Directorate on Saturday brought in the name of ‘Mrs Gandhi’ and ‘big man R’, in Delhi’s Patiala House court when it got a seven-day extension of custody of British national Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the deal. The agency, however, did not specify who the ‘Mrs Gandhi’ or ‘big man R’ it was referring to.
The ED also asked the court to bar Michel from meeting his counsel in its custody, claiming the latter was tutored from outside through the lawyers. Following this, the court directed that the three defence counsel will be able to meet Michel one at a time at a distance from the accused and legal assistance will be only for 15 minutes at 10 am and at 5 pm during a day.