In House and outside, BJP, Congress spar over defence deals 

Former defence minister and senior Congress leader A K Antony countered the BJP’s offensive, saying that the Gandhi family had never interfered in India’s defence purchases.

Published: 01st January 2019 04:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st January 2019 09:53 AM   |  A+A-

Members protest in the well of the Rajya Sabha on Monday | Pti

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  In line with the BJP’s strategy to corner the Congress over the AgustaWestland helicopter scam in the run-up to the 2019 polls, the saffron outfit staged a “Halla Bol (clarion call)” across the country, with chief ministers of BJP-ruled states leading the charge in the state capitals. Party chief Amit Shah threw a poser: “If anyone knows why Christian Michel (the alleged middleman) passed on details of questioning to his lawyer; did he want details to be passed on to Mrs (Sonia) Gandhi?”
Former defence minister and senior Congress leader A K Antony countered the BJP’s offensive, saying that the Gandhi family had never interfered in India’s defence purchases.

In a coordinated action, chief ministers of BJP-ruled states and the respective state BJP chiefs held pressers across the country to hit out at the Congress and the Gandhi family for their alleged connivance in the scam as revealed in Michel’s purported revelations to the Enforcement Directorate.

“Michel’s lawyer has admitted that the paper was indeed passed on to him. He thought that it was a list of medicines, which could have been transparently given in any case. In any case, what must be told again and again is the Congress background of Michel’s lawyer.

The so-called expulsion remains a SHAM. He remains the conduit between Michel and Mrs. Gandhi,” Shah said in a series of tweets. He alleged that “friendship between Michel and one family in India is time-tested and deep”. The BJP would be intensifying its campaign against the Congress on the AgustaWestland issue in the coming days.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath launched a blistering attack on the Congress in Lucknow, alleging that the party had spearheaded a series of scams during the UPA reign to backstab the country. Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadanvis and his Himachal Pradesh counterpart, Jairam Thakur, in Mumbai and Shimla, respectively, levelled similar allegations against the Congress.

Meanwhile, Antony said neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi had ever interfered in defence deals during the UPA rule, including the AgustaWestland deal. He said the BJP was misusing Central agencies to malign the Congress and the Gandhi family. 

In the Lok Sabha, the BJP and the Congress sparred over the Rafale fighter jet deal, with the Opposition demanding constitution of a Joint Parliamentary committee. Rajnath Singh countered saying, “repeating the same lie won’t make it a truth”.

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