Irani takes on Sonia, says Congress 'uncomfortable' courtesy chopper deal

Union Human Resource and Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani on Friday said the latest revelations in the AgustaWestland chopper deal has become uncomfortable for the Congress Party as questions are now being raised on its leadership.

Irani said the latest revelations highlight the fact that corruption was on the rise during the previous UPA regime.

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"I think the scam is becoming uncomfortable for the Congress with regard to questions raised about its leadership...Obviously, those recognised as bribe takers in Italian Courts will try to conceal facts in Indian domain to escape the law," Irani told ANI.

Meanwhile, Union Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the latest disclosures in this case points out that the UPA regime attempted to stall the CBI probe in the chopper deal.

"Every day, evidence is coming as to how attempts were made to stall the CBI investigation...This was a pattern in case of Ishrat Jahan, in case of Amit Shah the court didn't even choose to frame charges against him...What was the game plan for Congress? Conceal corruption of Congress regime and try to falsely implicate the Opposition," he told ANI.

Shah had yesterday asked Congress President Sonia Gandhi to come clear in the AgustaWestland controversy and said those in power during the former UPA regime were responsible for it.

Shah said it is quite amazing that the flip-flops of the UPA came to the fore when it was in power, adding the same has grabbed eyeballs even now.

The Congress president had earlier alleged that the NDA Government was indulging in the politics of character assassination and blatant lies over the AgustaWestland chopper deal, while refuting the allegations being levelled against her.

James Christian Michel, the accused middleman in the chopper deal, has offered himself up for questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Agusta Westland's Rs 3,600 crore contract for supplying 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force was scrapped by the UPA government over charges of paying kickbacks to Indian agents.

In January 2013, India cancelled the deal and the CBI was assigned to investigate the matter.

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