There are allegations that Indian officials took bribe in procuring high end choppers from AgustaWestland, a British company originally owned by Italian Finmeccanica group primarily for VIP security replacing the old Russian MI helicopters. There are allegations of middleman involved in the deal reportedly family member of ex IAF Chief SP Tyagi. As per allegations he facilitated the deal and SP Tyagi had scaled down the requirement on altitude which cleared the technical hurdle for AgustaWestland in order to win this tender. Earlier high altitude requirement was added keeping in mind VIP movement to Siachin Army posts. As per allegations bribe was distributed to officers of Ministries involved as well.
Lower Italian court had ruled that no corruption took place in the deal but the higher Italian court of Milan had turned down the lower court’s order.
Congress is alleging that this change of verdict happened after media reports few months back told that new Indian PM Modi had asked for favour from Italian PM at a UN meeting to frame Sonia Gandhi in exchange of Italian marines on which she had taken a very strict stand. However, its true that Modi govt had actually allowed one of the marine to go back and another is relaxing in comfort of Italian Embassy in Delhi instead of Tihar Jail. But whether this was done as part of the deal or not, it cannot be ascertain as of now.
Coming to Sonia Gandhi, lets see the basis of allegations on Sonia Gandhi. The ruling party BJP had said that Sonia Gandhi is mentioned in the court order.
Its true that mention of Mrs Gandhi is there but not as a bribe taker but just as an influential personality in India. There is a letter recovered from middleman sent to their liaison office in Delhi which says that Sonia Gandhi is the most influential and we should target her in order to clear this tender. It also mention names of her advisers and PM Manmohan Singh who can influence decision in Indian govt.
However, being influential in govt or being advisor of influential person is not a crime in India or anywhere else but by mentioning the name without the context, ruling party can easily target the opposition. The court order at no point mentions Sonia Gandhi or any member of Congress party as corrupt. The charges are mainly against the corrupt officers.
Note: Views expressed are truly Author’s personal.