Hosur: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today broke his prolonged silence on the issue of alleged kickbacks in the AgustaWestland deal, saying that those guilty of corruption in the deal must be brought to book. He was addressing a rally in Tamil Nadu's Hosur district.
In an apparent reference to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who has been in the eye of a storm following a mention by middlemen in the Rs 3,600 crore deal of the Congress president and her top advisors, PM Modi sought to distance his government from Congress’s allegations that it was deliberately trying to implicate the senior Congress functionaries.
“Those responsible for the helicopter scam must be punished,” Modi said. The Congress has been on the backfoot ever since an Italian court in Milan ruled that top executives of Finmeccanica, the parent compnay of AgustaWestland, paid bribes to secure the VVIP chopper deal.
"They were identified as culprits by the people of Italy, what can we do? I haven't been to Italy, I don't know anyone there," the Prime Minister said.
Several notings of the middlemen refer to the Congress president as influential people to approach to secure the deal. The Congress, on its part, has said that since the party was in government, it was natural for the officials to consider its top leaders as influential.
In a show of strength, senior Congress leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today took to the streets and courted arrest, defying police orders and breaking barricades. They were briefly held at the Parliament Street police station before being released.