Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a direct attack on the Congress leadership, saying the party and corruption were “inseparable partners” and alleged involvement of Congress’ first “family” in the AgustaWestland chopper scam. Addressing a rally in Dehradun, Modi pointed out that alleged AgustaWestland scam middleman Christian Michel had been singing to his interrogators. “One was ‘AP’ and the other was ‘Fam’. ‘AP’ stands for Ahmed Patel and Fam stands for family. Have you heard of Ahmed Patel? Which family is he close to?” Modi asked the crowd.
“Congress and corruption are inseparable partners. Wherever the party comes to power, corruption accelerates while development is put on ventilator,” Modi said, addressing a crowd of over 25,000 at Parade Ground in Dehradun.
Modi’s broadside at Congress and the Gandhis came after the Enforcement Directorate claimed in a supplementary chargesheet that Michel had said “AP” stands for senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel and the abbreviation “Fam” was for family. The chargesheet has details on lobbying for the VVIP chopper deal and references to a leader “who will be PM” and political conduits.
The developments in the case, which Congress said was politically motivated, have heated up the political atmosphere, and the PM spared no effort in targeting the party and its leadership. In a TV interview, Modi countered the charge and said Congress needed to answer why cases were buried during its tenure. “I am only keeping my word that the cases, originating previously, are investigated,” he said.
While the PM took on Congress in his rallies, finance minister Arun Jaitley said the opposition party must explain allegations against its senior leaders in the VVIP chopper deal. “Are these ‘RG’, ‘AP’ ‘Fam’ hypothetical names, Congress should clarify,” Jaitley said and added that the same names were mentioned in documents recovered in Switzerland in 2013.
He said the chargesheet clearly mentioned documents which were recovered by Swiss police from the house of the mother of another middleman, Guido Haschke, in Lugano, Switzerland. “The chargesheet is based on oral and documentary evidence. To whom is the reference of ‘RG’, ‘AP’ and ‘FAM’ being made? Investigators have quoted in the chargesheet the statements of the concerned persons,” Jaitley said at the press conference.
The FM said there was no mention of the initials of the then PM or defence minister but only of those who could influence decision making. He said Rahul Gandhi spoke on subjects of which he did not even have a nodding acquaintance. “The only subject he refused to speak about or respond is the one on which he alone knows the truth - his own accounts,” Jaitley said. Speaking in Saharanpur’s Nanauta, Modi said, “Kisan, jawan aur naujawan - sabhi ki suraksha, samriddhi aur samman ka kaam hamara hai (It is our responsibility to work for the protection, prosperity and respect of farmers, soldiers and youngsters).”
Referring to local Congress candidate Imran Masood, who was arrested in 2014 for allegedly saying he will cut Modi into pieces (boti-boti), the PM said, “I want to tell my Muslim daughters that the opposition will never let triple talaq go ahead. Those who do ‘boti-boti’ cannot do ‘betibeti’.”