27/04/2016 12:52 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

I Am Not Afraid, Says Sonia Gandhi As Graft Allegations Hit Party

The Upper House of Parliament witnessed a shouting match between members on Wednesday after new MP Subramanian Swamy brought up the issue of the alleged involvement of the Gandhi family in the AgustaWestland deal.

Swamy's referred to an Italian court's judgement that described how the the firm lobbied with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her close aides besides the then NSA MK Narayanan and the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the 3,600-crore deal. It described Gandhi as the "driving force" behind the deal.

Bete noire of Congress' first family, Swamy, who took oath as newly-nominated member, took up the issue in the Rajya Sabha, earning a mild rebuke from the Deputy Chairman of the House.

"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," said PJ Kurien.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has geared up to corner Congress over allegations of corruption in the AgustaWestland deal. The top brass of the BJP including its President Amit Shah and parliamentary leaders including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley met yesterday to chalk out a strategy after media reports suggested that an Italian court, which has convicted AgustaWestland chief Giuseppe Orsi.

However, a defiant Gandhi told reporters that she was not afraid.

"I am not afraid because the allegations are baseless, it's part of their strategy of character assassination," Gandhi said. "Where is the proof? Government is in power for two years. Why did they not complete the inquiry?" she said.

Where is the proof? Government is in power for two years. Why did they not complete the inquiry?

"There is no case, my party will respond," said Singh.

Attacking Congress, Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar said that what has been revealed in Agusta Westland case is "very important and very serious" and that Congress owes an explanation.

He said that instead of disrupting Parliament, Congress should introspect on what "they have done to the country and explain what is the role of their leaders" in the case.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also targeted Congress, saying that those accused of paying bribes are in jail, but the alleged recipients are blocking the progress of the country.

There should be a discussion on the matter so that facts can come out in the open, he said.

"When the UPA government had blacklisted Agusta, why did the Narendra Modi government allow it to participate in Make in India?" countered Ghulam Nabi Azad.

(With PTI inputs)

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