BJP: AgustaWestland set aside Rs 50 crore for 'managing media'

Raising the issue in the Lok Sabha yesterday, BJP expressed concern over the reported misuse of media by the Italian company

New Delhi: BJP yesterday raised the AgustaWestland issue in Lok Sabha, expressing concern over the reported misuse of media by the Italian company, which had earmarked R50 crore to clinch the VVIP chopper deal.

The Milan court had noted that Michel was paid over 44 million euros by AgustaWestland for various contracts, which included a deal to supply spare parts for Indian naval helicopters and a post-contract service deal for the VVIP chopper contract. PIC FOR REPRESENTATION/AFP
The Milan court had noted that Michel was paid over 44 million euros by AgustaWestland for various contracts, which included a deal to supply spare parts for Indian naval helicopters and a post-contract service deal for the VVIP chopper contract. PIC FOR Representation/AFP

Raising the issue during zero hour, BJP national spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi suggested that the middleman Christian Michel had been given the amount to ‘manage’ the media. Amid strong protests from Congress, Lekhi said it was unfortunate that media, which is an organ of healthy democracy, has been “misused.”

“It amounts to misuse of the freedom of expression. It is irresponsible as media is part of democratic structure”, she remarked. Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, supported by party colleagues, protested to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. Amid the protests, the Speaker adjourned the House for the lunch recess.

Reports had it that Michel, a British businessman and an alleged middleman in the deal, was paid millions of dollars by AgustaWestland. A large portion of the money paid by AgustaWestland to Michel is “completely disproportionate” to the work he did for the company, the Milan Court of Appeals has held. Interpol issued a red corner notice against Michel on India’s request in December 2015.

The Milan court had noted that Michel was paid over 44 million euros by AgustaWestland for various contracts, which included a deal to supply spare parts for Indian naval helicopters and a post-contract service deal for the VVIP chopper contract.

India approaches UK Meanwhile, in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said India has approached the British government for extradition of Christian Michel. He said that the matter is under consideration of the concerned British authorities.

SC to hear plea against Sonia, Manmohan

The Supreme Court yesterday said it would hear next week a PIL seeking registration of an FIR against political leaders, including Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in connection with AgustaWestland Chopper case. The bench ordered listing of the PIL when advocate M L Sharma said that it is an urgent matter, which should be heard at the earliest.

Politicos speak
Amit Shah, BJP Chief
I think she (Sonia Gandhi) should come out of this mindset about whether she fears anybody or not and make it clear. When it has been proven that a bribe was given, then who received the money?

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi CM
Why is the PM silent on Agusta? First BJP spared Vadra, now protecting entire Congress top brass in Agusta? A CBI raid had
been conducted on me, but why there is no raid on Congress?

Sachin Pilot, Congress leader
Whenever there are elections, BJP engages in malicious campaign and this time they have engaged in a similar campaign against the Congress. It was the Congress-led UPA, which cancelled the (chopper) deal.

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