The mysterious reference by Michel had led to a political slugfest with some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders relating the “R” to Congress President Rahul Gandhi
The “big man R” reference found in despatches allegedly authored by the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, Christian Michel, is likely to be Russia and Rosoboronexport, according to a report by The Economic Times.
On December 29, 2018, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had told Delhi’s Patiala High Court that it needed to decipher reference made by Michel to “big man R”.
The mysterious reference by Michel had led to a political slugfest with some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders relating the “R” to Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar had claimed that Michel’s reference to 'Mrs Gandhi', 'son of Italian lady', 'big man', 'R' “points to only one family".
Taking a dig at the Congress, Javadekar said it should answer who all Michel was referring to and claimed that people know of one 'R', who had torn an ordinance of the Manmohan Singh government, referring to Rahul Gandhi.
PM Modi had also claimed that Michel was close to the Congress. Without taking names, the prime minister said: “Recently, a defence middleman was caught and brought back to India. But do you know who this middleman is close to? This middleman is close to the current ‘First Family’ of the Congress.”
According to the report, initial investigation in the case is indicating that the correspondence alluded to Russia and a Russian company Rosoboronexport, which was the "front runner" to bag the VVIP chopper deal.
Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.
However, the company had withdrawn from the race by refusing to sign the integrity contract, which had been made mandatory under the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) introduced by the UPA government, the report suggests.
After Rosoboronexport dropped out, there were only Sikorsky and AgustaWestland left in the race.
Probe agencies are investigating why the UPA government did not take the deal offered by Russia which was reportedly to be cheaper than that of AgustaWestland.
Rosoboronexport is Russia's state-run intermediary agency for imports and exports of defense-related products, technologies and services.The agencies are considering investigating if the Russian company was “deliberately” forced to drop from the deal.