Nirmala Sitharaman speaking to media person in Kolkata on Tuesday. Photo/ANI
Nirmala Sitharaman speaking to media person in Kolkata on Tuesday. Photo/ANI

Before speaking on Rafale, give answers on AgustaWestland deal: Nirmala Sitharaman

ANI | Updated: May 07, 2019 17:18 IST

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], May 7 (ANI): Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday hit out at Congress president Rahul Gandhi and said that the latter before speaking on the issue of Rafale, should come clear on AgustaWestland deal scam which took place under UPA's tenure.
Speaking to the media persons here, she launched a scathing attack on the opposition party and said: "The Supreme Court has given its verdict on Rafale deal. Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has also given its report on it, but if you are still talking about it, I think it is on the Congress party, first of all, to give answers on AgustaWestland and also on Backops Limited. Before questioning the Prime Minister or the Defence Ministry, they themselves have a lot to answer to."
The company in question, Backops Services Private Limited, was opened in India, with siblings Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi as directors in 2002. In 2003, a firm called Backops Limited was incorporated in the United Kingdom by Rahul Gandhi and one Ulrik McKnight.
According to the allegation levelled by BJP president Amit Shah on Rahul Gandhi, McKnight was the 35 per cent owner of Backops UK, in which Gandhi owned a 65 per cent equity between 2003 and 2009 before the firm was wound up. McKnight was later Director in a company that acquired offset contracts from French defence supplier Naval Group against Scorpene submarines in 2011.
Shah had questioned Gandhi's role in awarding defence deal during the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, to a company allegedly linked to McKnight.
Sitharaman also expressed concern over the sporadic attacks on the BJP candidates on the polling day in West Bengal on May 6. "It is a matter of concern. In spite of Central Forces coming in and assuring the voters that their presence will make a difference, Didi (Mamata Banerjee) 'syndicate morcha people' were all over the place," she said.
"Violence which is being perpetrated by TMC workers is a cause for concern. Didi at the end of the day screams about democracy, she is the one who is violating it now" she added.
She also lauded the incumbent government for their fight against terrorism. In a major diplomatic win, the United Nations on May 1, designated Azhar as a 'global terrorist' after China lifted its technical hold on a proposal floated by US, UK and France in the UNSC following the Pulwama terror attack.
"It is a success of the Indian diplomacy and the efforts made by PM have really paid off. It is a good augury for the fight against terrorism," she said. (ANI)