A Delhi court sent Mr Michel to five-day CBI custody.
New Delhi: The BJP and the Congress on Thursday sparred over the AgustaWestland kickbacks case with the BJP saying that Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the deal, had connections with the Opposition party and the Congress countering the charge by saying that the saffron party provides shelter to scamsters and fraudsters.
Mr Michel’s extradition to India has rattled the Congress, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra said at a press conference, adding that the Congress’ decision to expel its counsel, Aijo K. Joseph, from the youth wing of the party, NSUI, was a “charade and drama”. He remains a lawyer for the accused as 10, Janpath wants to be in touch with Mr Michel, Mr Patra alleged.
Mr Joseph appeared for Mr Michel in a Delhi court on Wednesday. Besides him, the other two lawyers defending Mr Michel are also linked to the Congress, Mr Patra claimed. “It is a clever move by the party to ensure that Mr Michel is protected,” the BJP spokesperson added.
Hitting back, the Congress said it is a case of the “pot calling the kettle black.” Congress spokesperson Jairveer Shergill alleged that the BJP is a “one-stop shop which provides full service to fraudsters and scamsters.”
The Congress leader said that if the BJP is linking the Congress with Mr Michel on the basis of a lawyer, it should explain why finance minister Arun Jaitley’s family members were taking fees from PNB scam accused Nirav Modi, why law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was representing Subrata Roy of Sahara and why Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje had given an affidavit in favour of Lalit Modi in London.
“The BJP should also come out with a suitable reply why Jaitley represented stock broker Ketan Parekh,” Mr Shergill said.
A Delhi court sent Mr Michel to five-day CBI custody on Wednesday. The 54-year-old UK national is among the alleged middlemen who brokered the chopper deal and paid bribes to officials and politicians to swing the contract in favour of AgustaWestland, the British arm of Italian firm Finmeccanica. The CBI has alleged that there was an estimated loss of approximately Rs 2,666 crore to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010, and cancelled in January 2014.
Mr Michel’s extradition came six years after his alleged involvement in the purchase of VVIP helicopters first surfaced in 2012.