The interrogation of Christian Michel by the agencies has shed light on the UPA era defence deals. In a shocking revelation, it has come to light that Christian Michel and Guido Haschke two middlemen accused of receiving kickbacks in the VVIP AgustaWestland chopper deal were also lobbying for Eurofighter, the main competitor of Rafale fighter jets to get the 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal. A ‘strategy paper’ seized from the office of Guido Haschke mentions that both middlemen worked on a plan to win the fighter aircraft deal for Eurofighter.
The two middlemen also discussed the need of ‘an in-country bureaucratical and political navigator’, “This man should have worked in the MOD and knows well on first name basis and not just the MOD, key bureaucrats and the minister but also the PM, Finance Minister, and the Leading Family,” read the document. The strategy paper further reveals that “there are only 3 candidates for such a job and only one of the 3 is available.”
The strategy paper also mentioned the need to involve Indian Air Force officials to crack the deal. “The 3 bosses of maintenance must be lobbed i.e. Chief of Maintenance Command, Air Officer Maintenance and Chief of Engineering,” said the document. In Lok Sabha discussion of Rafale when the opposition members were throwing paper planes, Arun Jaitley said: “I think these planes are being flown in the memory of Eurofighters”.
The Indian government released a request for proposal (RFP) in August 2007 to buy 126 fighter aircraft. There were 6 main companies competing for the deal but after complex evaluation, four were eliminated by April 2011. The competition was reduced between Dassault’s Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon. The two middlemen strategized to bring the deal in the hand of Eurofighter and receive a hefty return from the company. “This strategy paper was prepared in 2008 and was given for the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) but it was not known if and to what extent the company used the services of these middlemen.”
The UPA government signed a deal with AgustaWestland in February 2010 to purchase 12 VVIP helicopters in 3,600 crore rupees for use by top officials of the Indian government like the president, prime ministers, and other important functionaries. However, the deal was scrapped in 2014 when it turned out that middleman hired by the company paid bribes worth Rs. 423 crores to UPA government officials, other functionaries like Ahmed Patel and Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi. AgustaWestland is a wholly owned subsidiary of Italian company Leonardo S.P.A. which was previously known as Finmeccanica. The interesting thing is that Leonardo owns 21 percent share in Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug, company that coordinates the design, production, and upgrade of the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Earlier Christian Michel had revealed that the repeated mentions of a certain ‘Mrs Gandhi’ in the papers related to the deal might be a reference to Sonia Gandhi and the person mentioned as ‘could be future prime minister of India’ is Rahul Gandhi. It was also revealed in CBI investigation that Michel’s father was a friend of Indira Gandhi, former prime minister of India and mother-in-law of Sonia Gandhi. “His father knew late Indira Gandhi since 1970s and was very close to Gandhi family,” read the CBI document.
Given the latest revelation by the Christian Michel, it has become very apparent why the Congress party and its leaders are hell bent on defaming the Rafale deal.
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