This Article is From Apr 27, 2016

In AgustaWestland Helicopter Scam, BJP To Name Sonia Gandhi In Parliament

BJP wants probe after Italian court revelations on AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal

Highlights

  • Italian court order says 'reasonable belief' corruption took place
  • Ruling cites documents that name 'Signora Gandhi'
  • Controversy over Rs. 3,600 crore deal to purchase 12 choppers for VVIPs
New Delhi: The BJP has decided to name Sonia Gandhi as part of an all-out offensive in Parliament on the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland deal for VVIP choppers in 2010, when the UPA was in power. An Italian court investigating the role of officials of defence manufacturer Finmeccanica - Agusta's parent company - in bribing politicians and officers in India has cited documents that name "Signora Gandhi".

Here are 10 developments in the story:

  1. BJP's Subramanian Swamy, who became a Rajya Sabha member on Tuesday, has served notice for a debate on the chopper deal.

  2. The scam has made a comeback in Parliament after the Italian court's order reportedly accused the UPA government of not sharing critical documents with investigators.

  3. The order says there is "reasonable belief" that corruption took place in India's deal in 2010 with Italy-based defence manufacturer Finmeccannica for 12 choppers to be used by top leaders including the prime minister.

  4. NDTV has accessed details of the ruling, which includes letters naming Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but does not give proof of any wrongdoing by them.

  5. A March 2008 letter from the main middleman in the scandal, Christian Michel, to Peter Hulet, the India head of AgustaWestland, describes "Signora Gandhi" as "the driving force behind VIP helicopters".

  6. Manmohan Singh is mentioned in a 2013 letter by Guiseppe Orsi, former Agusta CEO, from jail. The letter said that the Italian PM or a senior diplomat should call the former PM.

  7. The ruling BJP, which has been under attack over controversies linked to Uttarakhand and foreign policy, discussed its Parliament strategy on the chopper scam on Tuesday at a weekly meeting of lawmakers attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

  8. On Monday, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were in the Lok Sabha when the BJP raised demands for a probe. "We want a discussion in this House and the Defense Minister should answer the questions that have been raised," said BJP lawmaker Meenakshi Lekhi.

  9. Former Defence Minister AK Antony of the Congress said: "We ordered an inquiry and cancelled the contract. If the BJP government is so keen, they should expedite the CBI inquiry we ordered."

  10. Two officials of Finmeccanica were jailed for corruption as Italy investigated the scam.