“PM did not cut any deal…” Govt rebuts Cong charges

RSTV Bureau
FILE: File photo of Congress party top leadership at a press conference in AICC headquarters, New Delhi.  Photo - PTI

FILE: File photo of Congress party top leadership at a press conference in AICC headquarters, New Delhi.
Photo – PTI

The Central government has strongly refuted Congress party’s allegation that Prime Minister Modi had had struck a “deal” with Italy on AgustaWestland case. Releasing a statement late on Friday, it said the central issue was corruption and any other effort to divert from it was misleading.

“Those who cannot see Prime Minister succeed even hint at him cutting a deal. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Prime Minister Modi did not cut any deal of any sort,” the government statement read.

Earlier this week, speaking in Rajya Sabha on AgustaWestland controversy, where Congress party and its chief Sonia Gandhi are facing the heat, its frontal leader Ghulam Nabi Azad had cited a newspaper reports of meeting between Prime Minister Modi and the PM of Italy, alleging that the former offered a deal to free Italian marines, facing murder case in Indian court, exchange of info on case.

The BJP-led NDA government also dubbed the attempts to link NSA Ajit Doval and Principal Secretary to PM Nripendra Mishra to one of the accused as “totally baseless assertion and indicative of malicious intent”.

“This is a totally baseless assertion, devoid of reason and logic, and indicative of malicious intent. In reality, there is no such connection,” it said.

BJP has been targeting the principal opposition party since Tuesday evening following media reports that an Italian court, which convicted AgustaWestland chief Giuseppe Orsi, reportedly said how the firm allegedly paid bribes to top Congress leaders to bag the Rs. 3,600 crore deal.

In the matter pertaining to acquisition of AgustaWestland helicopters, the undisputed central issue that stands out is corruption, especially bribery, the statement said.

“Any other line of assumption, approach and effort, as is being attempted in some quarters, is misleading, tries to hide the wrong-doers and is driven by instincts of self preservation,” it said.

In a related development, the CBI on Saturday examined former Deputy Chief of Indian Air Force JS Gujral in connection with alleged irregularities VVIP chopper deal with AgustaWestland. On Friday, it had summoned former Air chief SP Tyagi and former deputy Air chief JS Gujral. According to the reports, Tyagi will be examined on Monday.

Air Marshal (Retd) Gujral arrived at the CBI Headquarters in New Delhi in the morning and appeared before the investigation team probing the case. He was one of the many senior officials who were part of the meeting in 2005 when a decision to alter the required specifications was taken.

Both have been questioned at length in 2013 but the fresh round of questioning was necessitated after April 7 order of an Italian court.

(With inputs from the PTI)