The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday told Delhi Patiala High Court that Christian Michel, the accused in AgustaWestland VIP chopper scam case, made references like “Mrs Gandhi and son of Italian lady, he will become the next PM of India and big man R.” The court granted seven days of further custodial interrogation of Michel.
Among the big revelations in the remand paper submitted by the ED was the claim that it is investigating the modus operandi adopted by Christian Michel to eliminate TATA and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) from competition in an Italian deal. The remand paper states, “The steps undertaken to mask/portray the present deal as a British deal instead of an Italian deal to gain the advantage in Light Observation Helicopters” need to be probed. It also said “Modus operandi adopted in managing to influence the German deal” needs to be investigation, and “how the accused violated and misused information leading to actions under the Official Secrets Act” also needs to be probed.
ED told the court that Christian Michel has identified how HAL was removed from the deal and it was offered to Tata instead
— Abhijit Majumder (@abhijitmajumder) December 29, 2018
This revelation makes the claims of the Congress President Rahul Gandhi on the Rafale offset contracts not being awarded to HAL even hollower. It becomes very apparent that the then UPA government not only manipulated the process but did so specifically so the contract would not go to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, as opposed to the decision-making process on the Rafale deal validity of which has been upheld by the Supreme Court.
The recent revelations also cement the fact that Rahul Gandhi’s new found love for HAL was only to target the incumbent Modi government. In the past, the Congress party virulently targeted HAL and questioned its capabilities. On Mar 03, 2012, the then MoS defense, Pallam Raju accepted on record that HAL was not able to meet the expectations of Indian Air Force.
Furthermore, in October 2013, UPA Government told the Delhi High Court that HAL’s poor workmanship was to blame for MiG-21 accidents. They even blamed Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for a spinal injury to an air force pilot.
The shocking aspect is that all through this, the Congress party knew all about the ailing condition of HAL.
- In 2011, the then American ambassador to India Timothy Roemer in his report to Obama Government said in clear terms that the HAL was not competent to be a partner of either of the two American companies – Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
- In July 2013, Boeing ended the contract with HAL over ‘poor quality’ of production
- After studying HAL’s Nashik facility, Dassault’s conclusion was that the company “could not risk its global reputation” by partnering with the PSU.
- In 2013, miffed with HAL over missed deadlines, and failure to deliver cutting-edge R&D, Indian Air Force kept the PSU out of the 150 billion defense deals planned for the next 15 years.
The Congress party was very well aware of all these facts about HAL, but it still chose one of monuments (HAL) of the Nehruvian economy to corner the incumbent government on the Rafale issue. The Congress has no love for the HAL, it is clearly evident by the fact that the Congress-led UPA government under Sonia and Rahul Gandhi did nothing to improve the prospects of HAL. The recent revelations in the ED’s remand paper further cement this fact.