Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale fighter jet deal, calling him a “corrupt person.” He said the Prime Minister who had promised to be a “chowkidaar” for the country has turned out to be a “chowkidaar” for Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani. Rahul said the Prime Minister should resign if he is not able to respond to the charges with regard to the deal.
Rahul’s fresh attack on the government and the Prime Minister came on the basis of French newsportal Mediapart’s report that a top official of Dassault Aviation had explained to his staff in May 2017 that the firm’s joint venture with Ambani’s Reliance group for discharging offsets in the Rafale deal was a “condition”, “imperative and obligatory” to win the deal for 36 aircraft from India.
Addressing a press meet at AICC headquarters, he said the report and the statement of former French President Francois Hollande earlier make it clear that “the Prime Minister gave a Rs 30,000 crore compensation contract to Anil Ambani.” He also questioned Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to France and alleged that it is part of a “cover-up” attempt. He said the Defence Minister is going to France to “pressurise Dassault to remain silent”.
“Dassault is sitting on a huge contract. Dassault is going to say what the Indian Government wants it to say. Now, there is an internal document of Dassault which clearly says what is going on, which is that the Prime Minister of India has said that without this compensation, this deal cannot be done. So, the whole idea right now is to put pressure on Dassault,” he said.
“The #GreatRafaleCoverUp has begun. To try and show the deal is legit, Raksha Mantri will need to generate minutes of imaginary meetings held between the French & our MOD & both sides will need to agree on a common story to be spun to the media. RM left for France last night,” he tweeted later.
Recalling the Prime Minister’s 2014 remarks that he did not want to the Prime Minister but chowkidaar of the country, Rahul said, “Now it has come to light that he is not India’s but Ambani’s prime minister….he has turned out to be a chowkidaar for Ambani…. the Prime Minister is corrupt. The Prime Minister of India is a corrupt person but he came to power on the expressed promise of fighting corruption.”
Asked whether he would seek the Prime Minister’s resignation, he said the Prime Minister is not willing to talk about this issue. “The main issue in the country is corruption…The allegation is that the Prime Minister has indulged in corruption. And the Prime Minister is silent….So the pressure is clear…if he is unable to respond, he should resign.”
Rahul was asked about the MeToo campaign and allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against Union Minister M J Akbar and the Income Tax searches at the home and office of media baron Raghav Bahl. While he responded to the I-T searches, he parried the question of MeToo saying, “this is a press conference on Rafale. MeToo issue is a very big issue and I will comment on that issue at a further press conference.”On the I-T raids, he said, “They (government) will raid, harass, attack, try to pressurise you…”
BJP: Rahul mocking national security
Hitting out at Congress president Rahul Gandhi for calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi “corrupt”, the BJP Thursday accused him of mocking national security and said he is trying to build his political career by spreading lies on the Rafale fighter jet deal.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra termed Rahul a “clown prince” and said Congress was trying to make him a leader by spreading lies on Rafale deal. Alleging that Rahul and his family had made money from every defence deal that took place before the BJP government took over in 2014, Patra said that the Gandhis were a “family of middlemen.”
“You cannot lie and mock national security,” he said.
Patra also referred to Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa’s remark that the Rafale deal is a “game changer”. “Who should we believe? Rahul Gandhi or the Air Chief Marshal?,” he asked.