Accusing Narendra Modi of corruption, Congress President Rahul Gandhi Thursday alleged that the Prime Minister influenced the Rafale deal to save “debt-ridden” Reliance group chairman Anil Ambani’s business. PM Modi, Gandhi said, is behaving like the “chowkidaar (watchman)” of industrialist Anil Ambani.
“To save his (Ambani’s) business, he (PM Modi) took Rs 30,000 crore from IAF and put it in Ambani’s pocket,” Rahul alleged.
Citing a French media report that said a top official of Dassault Aviation told his staff that the firm’s joint venture with Ambani’s Reliance group for discharging offsets was a “condition”, “imperative and obligatory” to win the deal for 36 Rafale aircraft from India, Rahul Gandhi said: “Earlier, former French President revealed that Indian PM had told them that Reliance should get a deal. Now a senior official of Rafale has said the same. It is a clear-cut case of corruption.”
French news portal Mediapart said it had obtained an internal document which shows that Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Dassault Aviation Loïk Segalen said on May 11, 2017 during a presentation of the joint venture Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL) from Nagpur: “It was imperative and obligatory for Dassault Aviation, to accept this condition, in order to obtain the export contract for Rafale from India”.
Questioning the timing of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to France, Gandhi claimed it was part of a “huge cover-up” by the government. “Why has suddenly Defence Minister rushed to France to Rafale’s plant? What is the emergency?” Gandhi said.
Sitharaman left for France Wednesday night on a three-day visit where she will hold wide-ranging talks with her French counterpart Florence Parly on ways to deepen strategic cooperation between the two countries.
On Dassault Aviation’s statement that the French government had no role in choosing its offset partners, Gandhi said: “Dassault is sitting on a huge contract. Dassault will say what the Indian government wants it to say. Their internal document clearly stated that PM has said without this compensation the deal will not be done”
“PM is in a different space. What he promised he doesn’t talk about them anymore. Main issue in country is corruption. Allegation on him that he is corrupt but he is silent. He needs to resign, why shouldn’t he,” he added.
On NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s purported remarks defending PM Modi on Rafale, Gandhi said: “Pawar said he has been misquoted, that is not the issue here. The issue is there is a clear-cut case of corruption against PM.”
When asked to comment on allegations of sexual harassment against MoS for External Affairs M J Akbar, Gandhi said: “#MeToo issue is a very big issue. I will give you my detailed view on that later.”