Prime Minister Narendra Modi wasn’t in Parliament for today’s fierce debate on the AgustaWestland helicopter scam, but he brought it to the attention of an election rally in Tamil Nadu with resounding force.
“Those responsible for the helicopter scam must be punished,” the PM said, adding to the ruling BJP’s pinning down of the Opposition Congress and its top leaders, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. “They were identified as culprits by the people of Italy, what can we do? I haven’t been to Italy, I don’t know anyone there,” he said to clarify that it is not his government that is trying to implicate the Gandhis.
A court in Milan has ruled that top executives of Finmeccanica, an Italian firm which owns Agusta, paid bribes to Indians for the Rs. 3,600-crore order placed by the Congress in 2010. The Italian verdict took into consideration letters and notings from middlemen and executives who listed Mrs Gandhi, Congress chief, in various places, as also her top advisors.
The Congress says that given that it was running the country, it’s natural that its leaders would be considered influential politicians and that the appearances of names in no way suggests that they accepted kickbacks. The BJP says the documents furnish new evidence that the Congress executed a corrupt deal, then tried to prevent an effective inquiry.
The Congress, in a show of aggression, held a rally in Delhi today which ended with the Gandhis deliberately defying police orders by marching past barricades, which led to a brief detention at a police station near Parliament. “I have done nothing wrong,” Mrs Gandhi said last week to reporters. “I am always the target, am happy to be targeted,” said her son.