New Delhi: With the BJP announcing plans to target him on the Agusta Westland scam in parliament, Rahul Gandhi today told reporters, "I am always being targeted, happy to be targeted."
- Rahul Gandhi's aide linked to Agusta middleman, says BJP
- Aide's family runs Emaar-MGF which hired middleman as Director
- Aide, Kanishka Singh, says no links to family members running Emaar
"A lot of people like to play victim. If he wants to play that, he's welcome to," shot back union minister General VK Singh of the BJP.
General Singh's party colleague Kirit Somaiya has said that Rahul Gandhi, the 45-year-old No 2 of the Congress, owes an explanation in the AgustaWestland scam. He says Mr Gandhi's top advisor, Kanishka Singh, is linked to a middleman who paid bribes in exchange for Agusta, an Anglo-Italian firm, to be chosen as the supplier of 12 helicopters to India. The deal was cancelled in 2014 after Italian investigations uncovered details of kickbacks.
The Italian verdict borrows from documents seized from middlemen and Agusta executives, who referred to several Congress leaders including Mr Gandhi's mother, Sonia Gandhi, who is the chief of the Congress.
Last week, an Italian court ruled that bribes of 30 million Euros had been paid in India, catapulting the Agusta scam to the top of the political agenda.
"The Gandhi parivaar must explain," Mr Somiaya said last night, claiming there is evidence that directly links both mother and son to the corruption in the 3,600-crore chopper deal.
Guido Haschke is one of three middlemen that India wants to question about the deal. Mr Somaiya said that Mr Haschke was serving as a Director in 2009 for real estate developer Emaar-MGF, promoted by Mr Singh's family. Agusta landed the helicopter deal in 2010. Mr Somiaya says that since his complaints about this link were ignored when the Congress was in power, he has filed new letters with the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate asking them to investigate Mr Haschke's dotted line to Mr Gandhi's advisor.
"Will Rahul Gandhi deny that he and Kanishka Singh have a close relation, and Kanishka's family is the founder of Emaar-MGF? Will Rahul Gandhi respond how and why Mr Haschke was a Director in the company?" Mr Somaiya said.
Mr Singh has described Mr Somaiya's allegations as false; he says he has no links to the branch of his family that runs Emaar currently, and that the BJP leader should "provide material at the earliest to his own Government and its agencies, which will facilitate investigation".
When contacted by NDTV, an Emaar spokesperson said that Mr Haschke was on its board for two months and that he "did not attend any board meeting during his tenure of appointment and in fact has never visited our offices at any time nor has had any meetings with any of our officials at any time".
After a plea bargain with Italian prosecutors, Mr Haschke is believed to be living in a small Swiss resort town. It was on the basis of his tapped phone conversations and notes that the Italians were able to prove their case of corruption.