It seems that the UPA’s doubtful past and numerous scams during its tenure are preventing the Congress from fully recovering. One such fiasco, the AgustaWestland scam, dates back to 2010 when a tender was assigned to AgustaWestland and 12 AW101 helicopters were to be acquired by the government of India at a total cost of Rs. 3,546 crores. Out of these 22 choppers, 8 were to be assigned to the Prime Minister, President of India and other ministers.
Now, United Arab Emirates (UAE) has agreed to extradite the middleman in the AgustaWestland scam- Christian Michel- to India. This is very bad news for the Congress and especially those who are the alleged beneficiaries of the scam.
Christian Michel is a British citizen and he is accused of handling and routing over 60 million dollars for kickbacks in the deal for AgustaWestland helicopters. UAE authorities arrested him in 2017. Since then, the Indian Investigating Agencies had been demanding to extradite Christian Michel to India.
UAE authorities placed Christian Michel under detention after India asked for his extradition through Dubai court.
The timing of the extradition could not be worse for the Congress as it is desperately trying to build a narrative of fictional ‘rafale scam’. They want to make Rafale deal a Bofors scam moment for the BJP in order to gain relevance but so far they have only suffered abject failure in their efforts. Extradition of Michel would add insult to their injury. The interrogation of the middleman by the Indian agencies would definitely reveal details about the scam that the Congress has buried and would have not wanted to come out. An Italian court’s judgment has already exposed the role of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh in AgustaWestland Chopper Deal. The judgment states that the firm lobbied with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her close aides along with then NSA MK Narayanan and then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The 225-page judgment on the AgustaWestland case also annexes several documents and handwritten notes exchanged between the middlemen on how the total commission of Euro 30 million was distributed among India’s political leaders, bureaucracy, and Air Force officials. A letter dated March 15, 2008, seized by the investigators shows the main middleman Christian Michel writing to Peter Hulet, then India region sales and liaison head of the helicopter company. The letter states that Sonia Gandhi is the main driving force behind this deal and she will no longer fly in the existing MI- 8 choppers. The letter is quoted verbatim in the judgment. Details of lobbying and corruption of Congress leadership, writing to the then British High Commissioner in India that he should target top Congress leadership for clinching the deal are clearly explained. The Page 9 of the judgment also attached the handwritten note of Michel on the distribution formula of 30 Million Euros.
And now the fresh revelations by Michel once he is extradited would be a huge embarrassment for the Congress party ahead of 2019 general elections. It would put them on the back-foot at a crucial time. The revelations would give BJP an issue to target the Congress party that too based on solid evidences. It is no exaggeration to say that fresh revelations coupled with many other issues and PM Modi’s achievements would dig the grave of the Congress party in 2019 general elections.