Did Christian Michel mean Sonia Gandhi or Indira Gandhi with his ‘Mrs Gandhi’ reference in court? Did pro-BJP media get excited too soon?


The social media exploded on Saturday after a Delhi court hearing the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case was told by the ED that the alleged middleman Christian Michel had named one ‘Mrs Gandhi’ during the interrogation.

(Indian Express Photo by Praveen Khanna)

No sooner the information was out, known supporters of the BJP in the media took to Twitter to conclude that by ‘Mrs Gandhi,’ Michel was referring to the personal involvement of Sonia Gandhi. Abhijeet Majumder, the editor of Mynation website, tweeted, “BIG NEWSBREAK ON @MyNation: Agusta-Westland middleman Christian Michel has taken Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s name during interrogation, Enforcement Directorate (ED) tells Patiala House Court.”

Majumder of Mynation, a venture of BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrsekhar, was quickly corrected by his former India Today colleague, Tanushree Pandey, who was present in the courtroom. She replied to his tweet and wrote, “Sir, as you tweet this, I’m sitting inside the courtroom wondering when did this happen? ED Counsel very clearly said Christian Michel made a reference of “Mrs Gandhi” during interrogation. Whether Sonia or someone else is yet to be disclosed.”

Another journalist Arvind Gunasekhar, known for his sharp legal reporting, explained that ‘Mrs Gandhi’ was not mentioned in the context of Sonia Gandhi. He wrote, “Who all were the people your father knew in India ? ED to Christian Michel. Mrs. Gandhi (Indira Gandhi) : Christian Michel. This was the question and answer, ED referred to in Patiala House court today !”

Gunasekhar’s tweet made it clear that Michel had reportedly mentioned ‘Mrs Gandhi’ in reference to his father’s acquaintance with former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and not Sonia Gandhi.

Even the ED told the court that they needed to ‘decipher the documents to decrypt such codes,’ But this did not stop BJP supporters from trending #MrsGandhiChorHai.

News agency PTI reported that the ED also told the court that Michel had handed a chit to his lawyer asking him how to handle questions on ‘Mrs Gandhi.’ It asked that Michel be barred from meeting lawyers in custody. But the court said that Michel could meet his lawyers twice a day, for 15 minutes each time, at a distance.

The ED counsel, during the hearing, also said that Michel had referred to the ‘son of the Italian lady’ and how he was going to be Prime Minister of the country. There was no clarity whether these mentions were in connection with the alleged bribe paid in the deal.

Reacting to the Saturday’s development, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal told ANY, “It’s shocking! How can a public prosecutor who is representing both ED & CBI come to court and play politics? He’s doing as he is instructed by the PM. We don’t have any faith in any agency now.”

Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3600 crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal, was brought to India from Dubai earlier this month. Since then, he’s been under the custody of the Indian agencies.

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