Extradition sparks political slugfest

A day after the ruling BJP termed the extradition of Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper deal case, a diplomatic victory for India and pointed out that it could spell “serious trouble” for Congress’ “first family”, referring to Gandhis, the Congress on Wednesday  alleged that the BJP and prime minister Narendra Modi were “latching” on to Michel for a “smear campaign” against opposition leaders.

However, the allegation was rejected by BJP president Amit Shah who challenged the Congress to spell out its stand on the extradition of Michel. “I want to know whether any middleman should be arrested or not? What does the opposition want? Does it want to save them,” Shah told a press conference in Jaipur.

Modi also brought up Michel’s extradition at his rally in Pali in Rajasthan on the last day of campaigning for the state Assembly polls on Friday. “The government has brought the middleman involved in a helicopter scam from Dubai. He served politicians and will now disclose secrets,” the prime minister said. “Let’s see how far this goes.”

Asked about Michel’s extradition earlier at a news conference in Hyderabad, Congress president Rahul Gandhi asserted his party has made its position “very very clear” in this matter and raised the alleged irregularities in the Rafale jet deal with France. Gandhi said that the prime minister should explain the alleged payment of Rs 30,000 crore to industrialist Anil Ambani in the deal. The Anil Ambani-headed Reliance Group has denied any wrongdoing.