Prime Minister Narendra Modi today raised the charge-sheet in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case that was filed before a Delhi court on Thursday and said it names “AP” as Ahmed Patel and “FAM” as family.
“This chowkidaar of yours got back some middlemen in the VVIP chopper case from Dubai. Probe agencies questioned Italy’s (Christian) Michel mama and other middlemen for many weeks. The charge-sheet presented before the court says the people who have been bribed are AP which stands for Ahmed Patel and FAM for Family. You must have heard Ahmed Patel’s name. Now tell me which family is he close to? Who benefitted from the chopper deal?” PM Modi said at a rally in Dehradun.
Targeting the Congress, the PM added, “The relationship between the Congress and corruption is unbreakable. They cannot be separated. The Congress needs corruption and corruption needs Congress.”
The Enforcement Directorate charge-sheet against Christian Michel, the alleged middleman arrested in the case related to the chopper deal, names senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel and one “Mrs Gandhi”.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in a press conference, said “the needle of suspicion is clear” referring to the Congress’s silence on “AP” and “FAM”.
“The evidence is overwhelming. The needle of suspicion is clear. And I will repeat if they don’t answer, they have no answer to give,” Mr Jaitley said.
Christian Michel, however, told a Delhi court today that he has not named anybody in connection with the deal during investigation. A British national, Christian Michel is one of the three middlemen being investigated over charges of organising bribes to push the deal with decision-makers in India. He was extradited from Dubai in December.
The VVIP chopper case involves a 3,600-crore contract for the purchase of 12 luxury helicopters to be used by top Indian leaders like the President, Prime Minister, former PMs and other VIPs. The deal with Italy-based helicopter-maker AgustaWestland was signed by the previous Manmohan Singh government in 2007.
Ahmed Patel has dismissed the charges, saying “It is all baseless, ridiculous and an election gimmick.”
“I have faith in the judiciary,” he told ANI.
The Enforcement Directorate chargesheet comes just days before the national election, for which campaigning is at its peak. The Congress alleges that the chopper investigation has been ramped up in an attempt to target its top leaders in election season, mainly to deflect attention from the Rafale deal controversy.
The BJP says the case could spell “serious trouble” for the “first family” of Congress, referring to its chief Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi.