Facing BJP’s frontal attack on AgustaWestland chopper deal controversy, Congress party president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday rejected allegations linking her and some senior party leaders to bribes in the deal. Putting up a brave face amid sharp attack from the ruling party, Ms Gandhi said she is not afraid of being “cornered” on the issue.
“I am not afraid of anyone cornering me as there is no basis to that. All the accusations they are throwing at us are false,” she told the press pack in Parliament complex.
“Where are the proofs? They are lying. They are part of a strategy of character assassination which we have known these people indulge in,” Sonia Gandhi said.
Trying to turn the tables over the issue, the beleaguered Congress party chief questioned incumbent Modi government what it has been doing in power for the last two years.
“The government is there for the last 2 years. What are they doing? Inquiry is there, why don’t they complete it? Complete it as soon as possible, impartially,” she added.
The sparring between the ruling BJP and the principal opposition Congress has snowballed few folds in the on-going Parliament session following the allegations of bribery in the Rs.3,6000 crore VVIP helicopter deal during the Congress-led UPA regime. As per the reports, emerging from Italy, a local court judgement cited notes from middlemen that around Rs.120 crore were paid some political leaders in the deal.
“Bribe-givers have been convicted. Why are bribe-takers silent? Antony (then Union Defence minister) should answer if leaders of Congress are involved in it or not. Are they from your party or not? Please come clean,” Union Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked as BJP upped ante against the Congress party.
“Her government was the champion of corruption. She must issue a clarification over the mention of her name by the court,” another BJP leader Shrikant Sharma said.
Dismissing allegations, former Defence minister and senior Congress leader AK Antony in turn asked the Modi government to fast track the probe into the chopper scam.
“When the primary allegation came out in the media, we immediately ordered a CBI inquiry. We cancelled the contract and fought the case in the Milan court. We won the case and got back all the money we paid in advance by bank guarantee,” he told reporters.
“The Indian government has gained more (information) now. My request to the Indian government is that the probe has been going on for a long and hence please speed up the inquiry and find the truth,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Congress party taking an aggressive approach in its counter-attack, Congress party demanded discussion in the Lok Sabha.
(With inputs from the PTI)