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New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday launched an all-out offensive against the Congress over the extradition of AgustaWestland middleman Christian James Michel’s extradition, which the saffron party says was a diplomatic victory for India and could spell “serious trouble” for the Congress’ “first family”.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, addressing a press conference, said that the Congress has been rattled by Michel’s extradition, the alleged middleman in the graft-tainted Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal during the UPA rule, and is getting “sleepless nights”.

Referring to Indian Youth Congress leader and lawyer Aljo K Joseph’s appointment as Michel’s counsel, Patra said that the Congress sent their “team” to save him.

“The Congress is rattled after the extradition of Christian Michel. They sent their team to save Michel. Congress’s Aljo Joseph appeared for him in Court, they later went through the charade of removing him. The family in Congress is getting sleepless nights,” said Patra.

Patra further claimed that the other two counsels for Michel – Vishnu Shankar and Sriram Parakkat – were also connected to the Congress and had worked under “big Congress lawyers” Slaman Khurshid and Kapil Sibal.

“Other than Aljo Joseph, there are two other lawyers of Christian Michel, Vishnu Shankar who is the son of a Kerala Congress leader and Sriram Parakkat who has been an NSUI member. All 3 have worked under big Congress lawyers like Salman Khurshid and Kapil Sibal,” he said.

The Congress on Wednesday expelled Joesph after he appeared for Christian Michel and distanced itself from the latter after facing criticism.

“Aljo K Joseph appeared in his personal capacity. He did not consult the Youth Congress before appearing in the case. IYC does NOT endorse such actions. IYC has removed Aljo Joseph from IYC’s Legal Department and expelled him from the party with immediate effect,” the party said in a statement.

British businessman Michel was Wednesday sent to five-day CBI custody by a Delhi court, a day after he was extradited to India from the UAE.

The CBI’s plea for custody was opposed by Michel’s counsel Joseph and Vishnu Shankaran who said they have not yet received any documents from the agency and that the accused may be remanded to judicial custody.

Suresh Nakhua, a spokesperson of the Mumbai BJP unit, had first claimed that Michel’s lawyer Joseph was a Youth Congress functionary, evoking sharp reactions from various quarters.
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