BJP-Cong tiff in­ten­si­fies over VVIP chop­per scam

AT­TACK Subra­ma­nian Swamy stokes tem­pers in RS; Ra­j­nath makes it a poll is­sue

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dents letters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Congress chief So­nia Gandhi should re­veal who re­ceived “kick­backs” in a con­tro­ver­sial 2010 he­li­copter deal, BJP pres­i­dent Amit Shah said on Thurs­day as he at­tempted to cor­ner the op­po­si­tion party on cor­rup­tion charges.

The rag­ing row sparked fire­works in Par­lia­ment where BJP leader Subra­ma­nian Swamy’s re­marks link­ing Gandhi to the Agusta Wes­land deal were ex­punged for the sec­ond straight day and the Ra­jya Sabha mem­ber rapped for the com­ments.

In West Ben­gal, home min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh at­tempted to make the graft al­le­ga­tions an elec­tion is­sue. “Where are those who re­ceived the kick­backs? Who were in power at that time? They are re­spon­si­ble and they should bring out the truth,” Shah said.

The strong re­marks un­der­line the BJP’s strat­egy of push­ing the Congress on the back foot af­ter the op­po­si­tion party stalled Par­lia­ment re­peat­edly over the past two ses­sions and hurt the gov­ern­ment’s re­form agenda.

The charges over the VVIP chop­per deal erupted two days ago when doc­u­ments in an Ital­ian court ref­er­enced mid­dle­men men­tion­ing top Congress lead­ers, in­clud­ing Gandhi and for­mer PM Man­mo­han Singh.

A sub­sidiary of I t alian de­fence ma­jor Fin­mec­ca­nica, Agusta West­land al­legedly paid around ` 375 crores as bribe, a rev­e­la­tion that led to the agree­ment be­ing scrapped by the then UPA gov­ern­ment in 2014.

The BJP al­leges the bribe was paid to top Congress lead­ers and is at­tack­ing the op­po­si­tion party in­side and out­side Par­lia­ment at a time when assem­bly elec­tions are go­ing on in four states.

In the morn­ing, Shah crit­i­cised Gandhi’s re­marks a day be­fore when she had said she “wasn’t afraid” of the al­le­ga­tions, say­ing her mind­set was the rea­son be­hind such scams. “When the Na­tional Her­ald cor­rup­tion case hap­pens, you say you do not fear any­body. When the Agusta West­land case oc­curs, you say you do not fear no­body... I want to tell her that we in the BJP are afraid of the Con­sti­tu­tion, rules and public norms,” he said.

In West Ben­gal where the BJP is locked in an up­hill three-way bat­tle, Singh used the al­le­ga­tions to at­tack the Left-Congress al­liance. CON­TIN­UED ON P8

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