Hinting at collusion between Rahul Gandhi and former France president Francois Hollande, Union Minister Arun Jaitley Sunday said it was “no coincidence” that Hollande’s statement came days after Congress chief’s cryptic tweet on Rafale deal. Gandhi, in a tweet on August 20, wrote, “Globalised corruption. This #Rafale aircraft really does fly far and fast! It’s also going to drop some big bunker buster bombs in the next couple of weeks.” Days later, on September 21, Hollande said that Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence was chosen as the offset partner by Dassault because the Indian government had “proposed” its name.
However, soon after his statement, Hollande told French news agency AFPthat he was “unaware” if the Indian side ever lobbied for Reliance Defence, adding that”only Dassault can comment on this”.
In an interview to news agency ANI, Jaitely suggested that the statements made by Hollande and Gandhi may have been ‘orchestrated’ as they are in perfect rhythm with each other.”Yeh jo jugalbandihai, mere paas sabot nahin hai, lekin mann mein prashn khada hota hai. (I don’t have evidence to back this but this apparent duet (between Rahul Gandhi and Francois Hollande), does raise a question).”
“Truth cannot have two versions,” Jaitley said.
Adding that the government had “no role in the selection of Reliance Defence as the Offset partner”, Jaitley, in a Facebook post wrote that the ex-president of France is “countering statement made against him with regard to a conflict of interest in his dealings with the Reliance Defence.” This is a reference to a report in The Indian Express detailing Reliance Entertainment bankrolling a film by Hollande’s partner Julie Gayet when India and France were negotiating the Rafale deal, “I couldn’t even imagine that there was any connection to a film by Julie Gayet,” Hollande had said during the interview to French news website Mediapart.fr.
Referring to the Congress party’s tweet alleging that Hollande “had been bribed by Anil Ambani to get the Dassault partnership,” Jaitely questioned how Hollande can be used as a “primary witness, particularly when he is facing criticism for an alleged conflict of interest within his own country.” “The former French President is contradicted by the French government and Dassault, and the next day he goes and contradicts himself,” Jaitley said.
Globalised corruption. This #Rafale aircraft really does fly far and fast! It’s also going to drop some big bunker buster bombs in the next couple of weeks.
Modi Ji please tell Anil, there is a big problem in France. https://t.co/tvL7HMBPFN
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 31, 2018
Rejecting the possibility of scrapping the Rafale deal in view of the controversy and allegations on the government, Jaitley said that all the facts and figures will be placed before the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to examine. “These jets are coming to India… They are required for Indian defence. They will enhance the combat ability of the Indian Air Force (IAF)… This is a clean government to government deal. Modi government is the cleanest government in the history while the UPA government of 2004-14 was the most corrupt government…By allegations, you don’t prove anything,” he told ANI
Both the French government and Dassault Aviation have clarified in their respective statements that the pact for Offset clause between Dassault and Reliance Defence was a private agreement between two companies and neither the French nor the Indian government were involved in it.
Hollande’s remarks had triggered a political slugfest in India. Calling PM Modi a “thief”, Gandhi accused him of “personally delivering a deal worth billions of dollars to a bankrupt Anil Ambani” and that he has “betrayed India and has dishonoured the blood of our soldiers.”