Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “treason”, alleging that he had shared a “defence secret” with industrialist Anil Ambani and violated the Official Secrets Act. He also alleged that the Prime Minister was acting as Ambani’s “middleman”.
The Indian Express on Monday reported that Ambani had, about a fortnight before Prime Minister Modi announced the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France, visited then French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s office in Paris and met his top advisers.
At a press meet on Tuesday, Rahul released to the media an e-mail dated March 28, 2015, purportedly written by Airbus executive Nicolas Chamussy to three recipients with the subject line “Ambani”. Rahul read out the e-mail which said Ambani, during his meeting, “mentioned a MoU in preparation and the intention to sign during the Prime Minister’s visit”.
Linking it to Rafale, Rahul said then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar did not know about the deal while the then Foreign Secretary had told the media on April 8, 2015 that talks are still on between the French company, Defence Ministry and the HAL on the Rafale deal.
“(The then) Defence Minister Parrikar had said after the deal was signed that he did not know about this new deal. HAL was negotiating with Rafale, but was unaware that they have been kicked out of negotiation. Anil Ambani is sitting in the French Defence Minister’s office telling the Defence Minister that in a couple of days, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to sign an MoU with him.”
“So, a couple of questions arise — this is a breach of ‘Official Secrets Act’. The Prime Minister who is the only other person who knows about this deal has informed Anil Ambani and Anil Ambani is telling the French that he is going to be getting a deal which he gets. He opens the company after this conversation…. The Prime Minister is acting as Anil Ambani’s middleman and this is in black and white for anybody who wants to read it,” Rahul said.
“This is now treason, this is nothing less. Narendra Modi is doing what spies do. He is informing somebody of a defence matter. He is under oath…to protect these secrets and he is now giving the secrets to Anil Ambani, who knows 10 days before that the biggest defence deal in the world is going to him. The Defence Minister does not know, the Foreign Secretary does not know, the entire defence establishment does not know… This itself will put the Prime Minister in jail,” Rahul added.