National

Michel names ‘Mrs. Gandhi’: ED

NEW DELHI, DEC 29 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 12/29/2018 10:42:20 AM IST

Enforcement Directorate on Saturday told a Delhi court that Christian Michel, an alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper deal, had named Mrs Gandhi, but did not specify in which context the reference was made. “He has also spoken about ‘the son of the Italian lady’ and how he is going to become the ‘next prime minister of the country’,” ED’s counsel told the court.

Though the investigating agency did not specify the context used by Michel, his reference was seen aimed at Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi.

“We need to decipher who is this ‘big man’ referred to as ‘R’ is in the communication between Christian Michel and other people. We need to confront Michel with other people to decipher this,” the Enforcement Directorate told the court. In response, the Congress accused the BJP-led government of using its agencies to put pressure on Michel.

The reaction of Congress came after a Delhi court, hearing the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, on Saturday imposed restrictions on Michel meeting his lawyers in ED custody after the agency said he was misusing legal access by passing chits to lawyers, asking them how to tackle questions on “Mrs Gandhi”. Asked about the development, Congress spokesperson RPN Singh said: “We have seen what the BJP has been doing in this matter. In fact, one of the television channels showed how there is pressure on Christian to name a particular family.”

On the ED’s claim that Michel had spoken about the “son of an Italian lady” and how he was going to become the next prime minister of the country, Singh said, “The BJP scriptwriters are working overtime.”

Addressing a press conference, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said, “Earlier, we knew only two words — ‘AP’ and ‘Family’ (allegedly mentioned in notes seized in connection with this case.) Now, there are mentions of ‘big man’, ‘son of Italian lady,’ ‘R’ and ‘party leader.’ All of these point to one family. The Congress government only engaged in scams and compromised with national security. The ‘accidental prime minister’ led a government of loot.”

Javadekar further alleged, “The NDA has extradited Christian Michel successfully, and on the other hand, the Congress is helping him by providing him their advocate...The Congress never carried out any defence deal without the presence of middlemen.”

Union minister Smriti Irani also questioned why a Congress leader sought to defend Michel. She tweeted, “No wonder CONgress rushed a posse of lawyers to defend the indefensible. Any guesses who this ‘son’ is?”

Aljo Joseph, who was in charge of the legal department of the Indian Youth Congress, represented Michel in a special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) earlier this month, after which BJP leader Suresh Nakhua took to Twitter to target him. The All India Congress Committee subsequently announced the removal of Joseph.


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