Cong questions 'secret deal' between GoI, Finmeccanica

Has Modi govt given a 'quiet burial' to the 'fake bogey of corruption', asks Congress on Finmeccanica

Congress' remarks came after the Modi government recently withdrew the ban on procurement from Finmeccanica, which changed its name to Leonardo SpA

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Credit: PTI Photo

Congress on Monday sought to put the Narendra Modi government on the backfoot over the lifting of a ban of procurement from Leonardo SpA, previously known as Finmeccanica, involved in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, asking whether the ruling BJP has given a "quiet burial" to the "fake bogey of corruption".

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, "earlier, Agusta was corrupt. Now, it is clean after being washed in BJP laundry. #RIPlogic."

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also asked the government to unravel the "secret deal between Modi government and Finmeccanica" and whether it was okay to deal with a company that "Modi ji and his government called corrupt-bribe giver-bogus".

"Does it mean that the fake bogey of corruption is being given a quiet burial? Nation awaits answers!" Surjewala said.

While the Modi government took Finmeccanica, which changed its name to Leonardo SpA, off the black list earlier, recently the ban on procurement was also withdrawn. The BJP had earlier targeted the UPA government over the deal after corruption allegations surfaced.

Referring to the latest decision, Surjewala said, "the Prime Minister called the company 'corrupt'. The Home Minister called the company 'bogus'. Ex Defence Minister (Manohar Parrikar) accused it of 'bribes and corruption' in Parliament. Then, Modi Government withdrew the blacklisting of Agusta/Finmeccanica on July 22, 2014. Now, the procurement ban is lifted."

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He also said "friends of the media" spent thousands of hours of air time showing leaked documents by the Modi government and building a "false narrative" against the Congress-led UPA in the run-up to 2014 Lok Sabha elections. "Will they now dare to question the Modi Government on the 'secret deal' with Augusta," he said.

Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh alleged that Modi and his government were "unequivocally guilty of shielding, protecting, and promoting AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica. Their nefarious design is simple - Operation Cover-up to Save Modi."
Vallabh said the truth was that the Modi Govt "mysteriously withdrew" the company's blacklisting and then sanctioned investment by it through the Foreign Investment Promotion Board. (FIPB)  

"The truth is that Modi and his govt included AgustaWestland as part of 'Make In India' scheme and even permitted it to bid for the purchase of 100 helicopters for the Indian Navy. The truth is also that Modi and his government lost all the cases against AgustaWestland in International courts and did not even file appeals," he alleged.
"The Modi government is hiding this conspiratorial nexus by unleashing a smear campaign laced with pure falsehood. This is a pot calling the kettle black," he said.
 He said the previous UPA government took "decisive actions" when the corruption allegations surfaced, which included ordering an enquiry, lodging an FIR, handing over the case to CBI, cancel the contract, encashing bank guarantees, filing of a case in Italy, confiscation of three choppers, recovery of Rs 2,068 crore and blacklisting of the company.

Instead, Vallabh alleged, the Modi government took an opinion from its Attorney General to undo the banning of AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica and later withdrew the blacklisting.

"As per the Italian Ambassador to India,  Modi and his Italian counterpart discussed the Finmeccanica issue during his recent visit to Rome for G-20 meet. In this meeting, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval were also present. Now, as a result, the procurement ban on the company is lifted," he claimed.

He asked what will happen to the investigation initiated by the Congress government against the company. "What will happen to pending arbitration against the company? Is this going to be a loss to the exchequer?" he said.

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