Amidst the heated debate over the Rafale Deal in Parliament, when opposition leaders were flying paper planes, Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister of India said, “I think these planes are being flown in the memory of Eurofighters”. In this statement, Finance Minister in his usual witty style stirred a debate in the country which may bring another storm for the Congress Party and its President Rahul Gandhi.
This statement of Finance Minister is a hidden attack on the Congress Party, which means that they are flying paper planes as they are not happy with the French defence company, Dassault, getting a contract from India for its Rafale aircraft beating the candidature of Eurofighter, manufactured by a consortium of European countries.
His statement became all the more important in the light of a recent report titled, ‘Agusta papers reveal Christian Michel was also lobbying against Rafale to win deal for Eurofighter’ by India Today. The report said, “Documents accessed by India Today TV have now revealed that two middlemen accused of getting kickbacks in the VVIP AgustaWestland chopper deal also strategised for Rafale’s competitor Eurofighter in order to seal the deal in its favour”.
Further, according to the same India Today report, “Italian firm Finmeccanica which makes AgustaWestland choppers owns 21 percent shares in the Eurofighter consortium”.
If both, the Finance Minister’s statement and the India Today report are read together, a logical corollary arrived at will be as following:
- Christian Michel, middleman accused in the AgustaWestland scam who reportedly took the name of ‘Mrs Gandhi’ and ‘son of the Italian lady’ was the same middleman lobbying against the Rafale to help Eurofighter win the contract.
- This suggests that the middleman accused in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, who has raised fingers on some top-level politicians of India, was trying to get kickbacks for the same politicians from Rafale’s competitor Eurofighter too, similar to the AgustaWestland case.
- However, due to the clearance by IAF, Rafale won the contract. But the deal with Rafale was not signed during the UPA Government and was possibly stalled by those same politicians who now did not get the kickbacks from Dassault.
This link between the then Rafale negotiations and the AgustaWestland case through the same middleman Christian Michel may now cause more troubles for Congress Party and its top leadership.