First among the corrupt equals?
Hitherto only implicitly guilty, but perhaps the names within the first family of Indian politics will be forever stained in the wake of the particularly shocking letter from the Choppergate middleman Christian Michel to AgustaWestland’s then India chief Peter Hulett. The correspondence clearly stated that the Anglo-Italian company should knock at the doors of Sonia Gandhi, the VVIP-in-chief as it were of India, to swing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland, in addition to also soliciting some political muscle-flexing from the Congress top brass, including the prime minister Manmohan Singh, president (then union minister in UPA cabinet) Pranab Mukherjee, Veerappa Moily among a host of others. The March 2008 note, seized from Guido Haschke, who is being interrogated in Italy for the Rs 360 crore worth kickbacks in the VVIP chopper deal, now directly connects the massive defence sector scam to the members of Gandhi dynasty, who, as it clearly appears to be, were possibly in the know of the unfolding swindle and had probably given it their overt blessings.
Much like the Bofors case, which proved to be Congress’ nemesis in 1989, the Choppergate too seems to be gradually implicating the bigger fishes, who until now had been sitting in the safety and impunity of their politically unaffected bastions. Attempts to scuttle the CBI inquiry had not yielded much so far, particularly in the wake of a strong anti-corruption surge in the country and with the Supreme Court repeatedly castigating the Bureau for its general inefficiency in probing cases. Now with the middlemen in one of the biggest defence scandals caught in the net of an investigation and with the media, especially the social and non-main stream newspapers and channels, keenly following the developments, looks like it will not be easy for the big league players to get away scot-free.