Opposition parties on Friday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi after a French media house quoted former French President Francois Hollande saying that the Indian government had proposed the name of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the offset partner for the Rafale fighter jet deal. The Congress said the Prime Minister had lost all moral right to remain in office after the “bombshell” revelation.
“The PM personally negotiated & changed the #Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to a bankrupt Anil Ambani. The PM has betrayed India. He has dishonoured the blood of our soldiers,” Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
The Defence Ministry said, “The report referring to fmr French president Mr. Hollande’s statement that GOI insisted upon a particular firm as offset partner for the Dassault Aviation in Rafale is being verified. It is reiterated that neither GoI nor French Govt had any say in the commercial decision.”
“This is a bombshell of a revelation. This vindicates what we have stated throughout that the Prime Minister himself is directly complicit in one of the worst acts of commission and omission in the purchase of defence equipment. It can easily be termed the scam of the century,” Sharma said.
Sharma said that only the PM was “privy” to “what he will tell the French President and the Government of cutting out Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and doing away with the transfer of technology and work share agreement entered into between Dassault and HAL and reduce the number of aircraft from 126 to 36. The cabinet committee on security was absolutely in the dark. It had not given any mandate to the PM to arbitrarily announce what he did”.
Reiterating the Congress claim that Reliance Defence was floated just 12 days before PM Modi visited France in 2015, he asked, “How did they know that the Prime Minister was going to take this decision? He was also part of the delegation and then this happens.” He said Modi announced purchase of 36 Rafale jets in April 2015 when the global tender was “alive”. “The global tender was finally scrapped two months later after a post facto approval of CCS was taken,” he said.
“So what do you require as a smoking gun. Here it is… This scam has global ramifications. You have seen the resonance in France. More will come out from the European countries,” he said. “The Prime Minister has lost all moral authority to remain in office. The Defence Minister has no right to remain in office for even a second because she has been an apologist to cover the PM’s personal involvement in this scam and repeatedly lied to mislead the country.” He demanded that an independent national commission of inquiry be ordered to “bring out the truth”.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury accused the government of lying and misleading people. “This Rafale deal is a scam if there was one…” he tweeted.
“Indian PM Narendra Modi, two Defence Ministers (@manoharparrikar ,@nsitharaman & Finance Minister @arunjaitley repeatedly lied to nation on #RafaleScam…” RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said in a tweet.