Sonia hits back, says ‘not afraid’ of Agusta inquiry

soniaNew Delhi,(IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday hit back at the BJP over its allegations against her on the AgustaWestland chopper deal, saying she was “not afraid” of any inquiry and there was nothing to hide.

An angry Sonia Gandhi accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of character assassination.

“We have nothing to hide. Let them (government) take my name, I am not afraid of anyone because there is no base to that allegation. They amount to calumny. Where is the proof? They are lying. This is part of their (BJP’s) strategy of character assassination,” Gandhi told the media here.

She said any investigation must get over as soon as possible so that the facts are out. “The allegations are baseless. The truth will come out soon.”

She asked why the Narendra Modi government did not investigate the deal in the last two years since coming to power.

“All the accusations they are levelling at us are false. The government is there for last two years. What are they doing? The inquiry is there, why don’t they complete it. Complete it as soon as possible impartially. The truth will come out,” she added.

Congress leaders met in the morning to discuss their strategy in the wake of BJP deciding to step up its attack over the AgustaWestland issue. The party has denied Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) allegations.

The BJP had on Tuesday targetted Sonia Gandhi and the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government over the chopper deal following an Italian court’s judgment.

Italian group Finmeccanica’s former chief Giuseppe Orsi and AgustaWestland’s former head Bruno Spagnolini were sentenced by a Milan appeals court to different jail terms for false accounting and corruption in the sale of the firm’s 12 VVIP choppers to India.

While Orsi was given four-and-a-half years in jail, Spagnolini was awarded a four-year jail term.

Three of the helicopters were delivered to the Indian Air Force before the contract — signed in February 2010 — was cancelled.

The IAF had sought the AgustaWestland choppers as a replacement for its Mi-17 cargo helicopters that have been modified for VVIP deployment.

The Comptroller and Auditor General had made adverse comments, saying it was a waste of resources.

Medaram Jathara

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