New Delhi, Jul 19: The Congress accused the Modi government of creating a "web of lies" and launching a "concerted conspiracy" against its leadership in the AgustaWestland case by using its investigative agencies.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that the statement of the lawyer of suspected middleman Christian Michel, who was detained in Dubai two days ago, shows that the Centre and its agencies are forcing him to make a false confessional statement against UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
His statement comes after some media reports claimed that investigators questioning the suspected middleman in the 'chopper kickbacks' case were trying to extract a false confession from him that he personally knew Gandhi at the time the AgustaWestland chopper deal was finalised. Michel, in detention now, is accused of handling and routing over 60 million euros for AgustaWestland kickbacks.
"This is a concreted conspiracy. Never before in the history of India has a prime minister (Narendra Modi) been found complicit in gaining false evidence against opposition leaders to seek revenge," he said. Former Defence minister A K Antony came out in support of the Gandhi family, saying they had nothing to do with the case.
"In the AgustaWestland case, we took the decision to (initiate a) probe. It was our initiative, this case has nothing to do with the Gandhi family. This is a false propaganda by the BJP," he told reporters outside Parliament. Surjewala said the Congress will raise the issue in Parliament tomorrow.
"Not only inside Parliament, but outside the Parliament in peoples' court too, Modi ji will have to answer as to why his government was giving a free pass to the accused to go scot free in the AugustaWestland case in lieu of a fake and false confessional statement indicting the Congress leadership. "Is this what the CBI is meant for? Is this what the character of the prime minister of India is? Is this the job of the prime minister of India to do such hatchet jobs and to be part of such manufactured conspiracies to tarnish and smear reputation of Congress leadership and opposition leaders by using accused person with bait that you will go scot free?" he said.
Surjewala alleged that a "failed" prime minister is now attempting to use such tactics in order to cover up the "misdeeds" of his government. The statements by Michel's lawyer Rosemary Patrizi Dos Anjos and his sister Sasha Ozemen have clearly brought out that the Modi government and its agencies are forcing him to sign a false confessional statement naming Gandhi in return for complete exoneration from any charge in the case, Surjewala alleged.
The Congress leader accused the prime minister of creating a "web of lies" against its leadership. Surjewala said, "This shocking expose is also a testimony to the disease prevailing in the CBI and the ED prostrating before the prime minister to collect fake and false evidence with a single-handed aim of tarnishing the reputation of opposition leaders and serving the political masters as a captive puppet and a willing tool of a malicious conspiracy."
"A mudslinging, muckraking and hatchet job is being enacted by the Modi government and its 'dirty tricks department' CBI and ED to smear opposition leaders is out in the open for the nation to see and adjudge," he alleged.
The Congress leader said even as Michel is detained in Dubai, Indian agencies have failed to produce any evidence in the courts in that country. They are merely involved in hatching a conspiracy against leaders of opposition and using the suspected middleman as a tool for the purpose, Surjewala alleged. He also claimed that it is an undisputed fact that in the AgustaWestland case the Congress-led UPA government had cancelled the contract for supply of 12 helicopters for a total cost of Rs 3,546 crore in February 2013 and proceeded to handover the case to the CBI.
Surjewala said to protect national interest, the UPA government proceeded to encase the securities and bank guarantees, both in India and abroad, and recovered an amount of Rs 2,068 crore against original payment of Rs 1,620 crore. He said the UPA had effectively recovered nearly Rs 3000 crore and on February 10, 2014, the then government also black listed AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica.
However, he alleged that the Modi government turned its "protector and benefactor" as it withdrew its blacklisting after assuming power, to permit it to participate in defence contracts as a 'sub-contractor' and 'defence supplier'.