'We will continue to ask why Modi and his government were benefactors to this AgustaWestland company, why within 40 days they overturned the ban?'
Randeep Surjewala, the Congress' communication chief, speaks to Kavita Chowdhury about the fallout of the AgustaWestland issue.
By raking up the AgustaWestland deal, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, it appears, has put the Congress on the defensive. The Congress may have strongly refuted the charges with detailed documents, but it hasn't quite succeeded in countering the perception war...
All that the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are doing is muckraking. Speaking a lie a hundred times doesn't make it the truth.
The truth is that the Congress government cancelled the defence contract, it ordered the registration of a corruption case, it referred the matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
For two years, the Modi government is in power, we ask them why have you not identified the bribe takers and taken action against them, why have you not proceeded against the bribe-giving company?
Why have you become protector and benefactor of a company, which you call corrupt -- AgustaWestland? And, after the company was banned on July 3, 2014, why do you issue orders within 40 days -- the then defence minister Arun Jaitley permits this company to participate in defence contracts with Indian partners or as a vendor of equipment.
Thereby, you undo everything against a company accused of being corrupt.
Why did the Modi government allow this company to enter into a joint venture and then gave them Foreign Investment Promotion Board permission?
The defence ministry now has tried to mislead the country claiming no such permission was given; but as per a Press Information Bureau release of October 8, 2015, the Modi government proceeded to give Agusta Westland FIPB permission.
The government claims that it was they who finally blacklisted the company on July 3, 2014, but it was the Congress government which had started the process on February 10, 2014 and the Modi government came to power in May 2014.
There is no magic wand. We were the ones who had started the process of blacklisting.
The Congress image has taken a beating with this AgustaWestland scam and more so that of its top-party leadership...
It is a conspiracy by the BJP and the Modi government to tarnish the image of Congress leaders through false allegations. The prime minister forgets he is not the Leader of the Opposition. He and his government are following the policy of shoot and scoot.
None of these allegations will hold water. We will fight it out politically. And we will continue to ask why Modi and his government were benefactors to this AgustaWestland company, why within 40 days they overturned the ban?
What is the connection between former Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi, who has been part of the Vivekananda International Foundation, and Ajit Doval (the National Security Advisor), and Nripendra Mishra (the personal secretary to the prime minister).
We believe the Modi government was scared of being confronted with the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation scam, where banks were defrauded of Rs 20,000 crore (Rs 200 billion).
Modi as Gujarat chief minister was directly at the helm then, and the Comptroller and Auditor General had severely indicted the GSPC. In order to divert attention from all this, they are making the false allegations in the AgustaWestland issue.
But it is the recent verdict of the Italian court that has brought the AgustaWestland issue into the limelight and the references made therein to Congress leaders...
There is not even one line in the Italian court judgment, which is an indictment of the Congress and Congress leaders. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, one after another Union ministers, have been levelling allegations.
I have seen the judgment of the Italian court. This is the double game being played by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. In the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley says they are 'yet to identify the bribe takers' and yet they are accusing senior Congress leaders.
The Congress had entered this Parliament session on an aggressive stance, but that seems to have petered out a week into the session...
That is not correct. We in the Congress have nothing to hide. On the contrary it is the Modi government that is shielding the corrupt and is the benefactor. <?p>
The Modi government has failed on multiple fronts. Be it the flip-flops on foreign policy, the Gurdaspur and Pathankot terror attack and then inviting the Pakistan investigation team, which turned out to be a huge embarrassment. <?p>
With the subjugation of an elected government in Uttarakhand, they have egg on their face.
Industry and employment figures are dismally low, there is a severe rural and agricultural crisis -- to deflect attention from all these, the Modi government is indulging in mudslinging and they are resorting to these false allegations and insinuations.
We are and will be on the front foot and raise these real issues like the murder of democracy in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh, both within and outside Parliament.