Press Trust of india

Sonia, Rahul never interfered in any defence deal: Antony

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New Delhi, Dec 31:  Former defence minister and senior Congress leader A K Antony Monday accused the BJP and the government of "manufacturing" lies in the AgustaWestland case and said Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi never interfered in any defence deals during the UPA regime.

"The Government and the BJP are misusing agencies to manufacture lies. I am surprised to know that the present government is spreading lies....is trying to manufacture something out of nothing," Antony said.

"I would like to say categorically that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi never showed any interest ... never interfered in the AgustaWestland deal. During my entire tenure as defence minister, Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi never interfered in any defence deals," he told reporters.

Addressing a press conference in Parliament, he said, "Without any iota of truth, they are trying to follow vendetta politics."

His comments came after the Congress and the BJP were engaged in a slugfest on Sunday.

While the opposition party alleged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government were AgustaWestland's protectors and promoters, the saffron party accused it of defending Christian Michel, an alleged middleman in the deal, and asked why it was scared of a probe into the case.

The former defence minister said it was the Congress-led UPA government that ordered a CBI inquiry the moment it came to know of corruption allegations in the VVIP AgustaWestland helicopter deal and initiated proceedings to blacklist the company.

Antony claimed that the UPA government fought the case "unusually" in a Milan court against the chopper-making company and won it too.

"We cancelled the contract and started proceedings of blacklisting. But after we left, the Modi government did nothing against AgustaWestland. Instead of acting against the company, they favoured the company," he said.

Antony said if the Congress had anything to hide, it would not have ordered a CBI probe or gone to Italy to fight the case.

The senior Congress leader alleged that the government and the BJP were trying to divert attention from the allegations raised by his party on the Rafale fighter jet deal and were not initiating an inquiry into the matter or a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the charges.

"During our time, whenever there were allegations, even in media reports, we took action and held an inquiry," he said while attacking the BJP government for not ordering a JPC probe into the Rafale deal.

On the BJP's charges of the Congress being jittery ever since Michel was extradited to India, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said this was like "chor machaye shor" (the thief is making noise).

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