Reports of PM Modi meeting Italian PM ‘false and untrue’: Arun Jaitley
New Delhi: Senior BJP leader and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today categorically denied that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi and the former had reportedly attempted to cut a deal on the Italian marines issue.
“Reports about a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Italian counterpart were false and untrue in entirety. No such meeting at all has been held," he said debunking a media report of Modi offering to free Italian marines in exchange of information on Gandhi family.
He said the principal issue was that there were allegation of bribe being paid to secure the defence deal.
"The bribe giver has been convicted and now bribe taker has to be identified," he said, adding “written admission by the alleged middle man has to be examined. Investigation is underway.”
Earlier, Azad quoted media reports to ask the government “if the Prime Minister had during a meeting with his Italian counterpart in September last year offered to free two Italian marines in exchange of information on Gandhi family in the controversial chopper deal”.
"Pronouncement of judgment (on the chopper deal) has come and now NDA government is now allowing Italian marines to return home. So the deal is struck," he said.
Azad said the Congress-led UPA government had in 2013 cancelled the deal when wrong-doings were reported and had directed the CBI and ED to investigate corruption charges.
Also, the then Government had encashed bank guarantee and got back advance money paid. Besides, three helicopters received as part of the deal were not returned, he said.
The VVIP chopper deal relates to a 2010 decision of the UPA government to buy 12 helicopters from Italian manufacturer, Finmeccanica. But reports later said the Italian company had paid a bribe of up to Rs 3,565 crore to swing the deal. Though the Italian company was blacklisted by UPA, it was part of Modi government's 'Make in India' drive, the Congress leader alleged.