In AgustaWestland case, the BJP gets a weapon to hit at Opposition political parties
New Delhi, Dec 5: Delhi's Patiala House Court has sent British businessman Christian James Michel to five-day's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody but this is its legal implication of it but it has more political implication with general elections round the corner. But more importantly the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will now have AgustaWestland deal to answer Rafale that had made the party defenseless.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been targeting the National Democratic Alliance government and prime minister Narendra Modi on the issue of Rafale from Parliament to state elections. He has in no uncertain terms called the Prime Minister a chor (thief) in the matter by accusing him of benefiting his industrialist friends. But now with the British businessman in the CBI custody everyday something of the other will come in public domain and that would really be difficult for the Congress defend.
Political analysts say that the BJP will definitely use this opportunity for its benefits and the issue will be kept alive till the 2019 general elections. Similarly the government is also trying hard to bring Vijay Malya back to India which too is likely very soon. So all the issues raised by the Congress president could be taken up aggressively by the BJP. The BJP leaders are gleefully smiling over the extradition of Christian Michel as this will give them some space to breath at least on corruption charges on BJP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already commented on the issue when he said at an election rally in Rajasthan, "You must have seen how we caught the middleman in the VVIP chopper scam and have brought him from Dubai to Delhi. Let us see what skeletons come out of the closet of the Congress."
The AgustaWestland case involves the deal to purchase 12 luxury helicopters for use by the President, Prime Minister, former prime ministers and other VIPs, when the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government was in power. The deal was scrapped in 2014 amid allegations that AgustaWestland, whose parent company Finmeccanica faced charges of bribery in Italy, had paid kickbacks in India. The Enforcement Directorate has accused Michel of receiving 30 million Euros (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland as kickbacks. Michel is one of the three alleged middlemen being examined in the case, along with Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.
The CBI said Michel's extradition took place "under the guidance" of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. He was accompanied by a team of CBI, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Foreign Ministry officials. It is the first successful extradition since India initiated similar proceedings against economic offenders like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.