Sonia, Rahul never interfered in defence deals: Antony

Sonia, Rahul never interfered in defence deals: Antony

Former defence minister and senior Congress leader AK Antony. (PTI File Photo)

Pushed to corner on revelations on the VVIP chopper scam, Congress on Monday launched a strong defence with former Defence Minister A K Antony asserting that top party leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi never interfered in any defence deals.

Antony, India's longest-serving defence minister, also launched a sharp counter-attack and accused the Modi government of misusing investigating agencies to manufacture lies.

“As former Defence Minister, during my time the procurement of AgustaWestland took place. I would like to say, categorically, that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi never interfered in deals and procurement,” the veteran Congress leader told reporters.

Antony’s remarks came two days after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) informed a Delhi court that Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the VVIP chopper case, made a reference to “Mrs Gandhi” and “big man R' during interrogation.

The BJP has stepped up its campaign against the Congress with Chief Ministers in party-ruled states holding press conferences targeting the Gandhi family in the VVIP chopper scam.

“Without any iota of truth, they are trying to follow vendetta politics. The Government and BJP are misusing agencies to manufacture lies,” Antony told reporters even as he launched a strong defence of the AgustaWestland deal.

The Congress leader also accused the Modi government of giving a clean chit to AgustaWestland overturning the process initiated by the UPA government to blacklist the defence supplier.

Antony said the Modi government and the BJP were trying to divert attention from the allegations raised by the Congress on the Rafale fighter jet deal and were not initiating an inquiry into the matter to probe the charges.

The Congress and the BJP have been trading charges on the AgustaWestland deal since Saturday when the ED told a local court about the revelations made by Michel.

While Congress accused the BJP of shielding AgustaWestland, the BJP hit back at the Congress claiming that it was protecting Michel, an alleged middleman in the deal.