New Delhi: The Congress Party, which has been cornered by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the controversy surrounding the AgustaWestland chopper deal, today dared the ruling dispensation at the Centre for discussion on the same.
Talking to the media after a meeting chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her official 10, Janpath residence here, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge expressed his disappointment over a report published in a leading English daily with regard to the VVIP helicopter deal.
“We will move an adjournment notice for discussion. There is a report published in a newspaper.We are ready to discuss the Augusta Westland issue in the Parliament,” Kharge said.
The meeting, which was attended by several Congress leaders including Anand Sharma, Randeep Surjewala and Jyotiraditya Scindia, comes in wake of a report published in The Hindu wherein James Christian Michel, the accused middleman in the chopper deal, has offered himself up for questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Michel told The Hindu from Dubai yesterday that he was willing to answer all questions from the Indian investigators in order ‘to clear’ his name, but insisted he had never met the Congress president or a ‘single Gandhi’ in his life.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who has moved a notice for discussion on the AgustaWestland chopper deal in the Rajya Sabha, today said that the Congress Party must support the probe in this regard.
“I can’t corner the Congress Party; they have got nothing to hide. They must support me. I am only saying that expand the investigation of the CBI because you had set up the CBI and you confined it only to the Air Marshal, and now, the Chief of Air Staff says he only signed the documents put before him by the UPA ministers,” Swamy said.
“You (Congress) have already few names from Italy in the document form and more importantly, it is a judgment of a high court level in Italy,” he added.
BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi has moved a notice for discussion on the chopper deal in the Lok Sabha.
Agusta Westland’s Rs 3,600 crore contract for supplying 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force was scrapped by the UPA government over charges of paying kickbacks to Indian agents. In January 2013, India cancelled the deal and the CBI was assigned to investigate the matter.