Congress President Sonia Gandhi took a hardened stance in the face of a BJP attack in Parliament over the AgustaWestland scam, telling mediapersons on Wednesday that she was "not afraid," after her name was brought up in Parliament. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, newly sworn in as a Rajya Sabha member this week, raised the issue in Parliament on Wednesday, and named Gandhi in connection with the VVIP chopper scam, though the House chairperson later expunged his remarks.
The chopper scam issue has come back to haunt the Congress party after an Italian court highlighted corruption in the Rs. 3,600-crore sale of 12 VVIP choppers to India in 2010.
"We have nothing to hide. Let them take my name, I am not afraid," Gandhi told the media. "I am not afraid of anyone cornering me as there is no basis to that. All the accusations they are throwing at us are false," she was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
Italy's Milan Court of Appeals convicted AgustaWestland chief Giuseppe Orsi of corruption in the chopper deal, and also said some Congress leaders had received kickbacks from the firm. The court also accused the former Congress-led UPA government of not sharing crucial documents with Italian investigators.
Swamy was quoted by the Indian Express as telling the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that Sonia Gandhi had been named in the court proceedings. His remarks led to a huge uproar among Congress members in the House, who stormed into the well.
"The name of the member of the other house can't be taken. Since this is your first day, I am not admonishing you. But the name would be expunged," Rajya Sabha chairperson PJ Kurien said.
According to NDTV, which accessed the court's ruling, Gandhi is named in a letter by the middleman in the AgustaWestland scandal, Christian Michel, wherein he describes "Signora Gandhi" as "the driving force behind VIP helicopters."