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AK Antony charged the Modi government over AgustaWestland issue

Top Congress leaders launched a fierce counter-attack on the Modi government on the AgustaWestland issue after a strategy meeting at 10 Janpath on Wednesday.

ET Bureau|
Updated: Apr 28, 2016, 12.16 AM IST
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Top Congress leaders launched a fierce counter-attack on the Modi government on the AgustaWestland issue after a strategy meeting at 10 Janpath on Wednesday.
Top Congress leaders launched a fierce counter-attack on the Modi government on the AgustaWestland issue after a strategy meeting at 10 Janpath on Wednesday.
NEW DELHI: Top Congress leaders launched a fierce counter-attack on the Modi government on the AgustaWestland issue after a strategy meeting at 10 Janpath on Wednesday. Former defence minister AK Antony charged the Modi government with “criminal negligence” in removing AgustaWestland from Indian blacklist “to help it return to defence contracts”, while the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, demanded that the prime minister should come clean on middleman James Christian Michel’s statement that Prime Minister Narendra Modi told his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi that the case against the Italian marines could be settled if he could establish Agusta’s links with the Gandhis.

The AICC also released a document to show former Air Force chief SP Tyagi allegedly involved in the scam, was associated with the pro-RSS Vivekananda Foundation. While asking 10 questions (see chart) to the Modi government, Antony demanded why the PM failed to act against the Raman Singh government in Chhattisgarh and Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan following the CAG reports indicting the two governments for causing losses to state exchequer in purchasing AgustaWestland helicopters.

Addressing a news conference in New Delhi on Wednesday, Antony said: “The Modi government is indulging in a cover up conspiracy to hide its sinister role in helping and promoting a banned corrupt company, AgustaWestland, and its parent company, Finmeccanica. What is most intriguing part of the conspiracy is the undisclosed reason on the part of the Modi government in permitting this blacklisted company — AgustaWestland/Finmeccanica — to get clearances from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board and permit its entry as partner or subcontractor to various Indian corporates and in Make-in-India projects.” He demanded that the Centre order a CBI inquiry against the charges.

Detailing how the previous UPA regime — after media reports that wrongdoing were committed by the firm in the helicopter deal, took steps to evoke the integrity clause to ban the firm from Indian defence contracts — initiated its blacklisting, retrieved money paid and joined the Italian judicial process to find the truth, Antony asserted that during the cross-examination by Indian lawyers of the witnesses in the Italian court, they never took the name of any senior Congress leaders.





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