Accusing Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his party of repeatedly “spreading falsehood and lies” over the Rafale deal, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal called him a “serial liar” and said his repeated lies cannot substitute the truth of the deal as the French government and Dassault have “exposed” Gandhi’s “fake news”.
“We have been witnessing the activities of a serial liar (Rahul Gandhi). I think only an issueless man can repeat a lie again and again because he doesn’t have any other issues. But even if a lie is repeated a hundred times it will never become a substitute for the truth. We have a gentleman manufacturing fake news and then trying to spread it. So repeating lie after lie, falsehood after falsehood, was not going to change the reality. The Congress is an issueless party, their leadership cannot understand basic figures, basic elementary facts,” IANS quoted Goyal as saying.
The minister hailed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government for the timely signing of the Rafale deal and said, “We have a crystal clear situation keeping national interest and the security of the nation as paramount.” “The BJP government decided to expedite the purchase of very crucial and critical defence equipment,” he added.
Goyal further said, “We have been able to negotiate terms which are far better than what was the UPA terms between the 2007 and 2012. We have been able to get faster delivery, longer maintenance tenure, better availability of spare parts and the much-needed capabilities particularly in the adversarial situation at the border.”
Goyal’s remarks come a day after Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier told AFP that the company’s joint venture with Reliance in Nagpur represents only about 10 per cent of the offset obligations in the deal to purchase 36 fighter jets from France and it was in negotiations with about a hundred Indian companies to meet the requirements under the Defence Procurement Procedure of the Indian government.
On Wednesday, French newsportal Mediapart had reported that a top official of Dassault Aviation explained to his staff in May 2017 that the firm’s joint venture with Anil Ambani’s Reliance group for discharging offsets in the 36-Rafale deal was a “condition”, “imperative and obligatory” to win the deal for 36 Rafale aircraft from India. 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”.
Dassault has maintained that “in accordance with the policy of Make in India, Dassault Aviation has decided to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group” and that “it is Dassault Aviation’s choice, as CEO Eric Trappier had explained in an interview”.
Referring to Trappier’s comments, the BJP leader said that he has categorically confirmed that since the “implementation of offset was an obligation under the Indian regulation” also drafted under the UPA, they themselves choose the partners to implement the offsets”. He further said: “The CEO has confirmed that of their volition and choice they chose a particular company with which their discussions and contracts are persisting since 2012.”
The minister said the Congress members were possibly trying to hide their own misdemeanours of 2012 when under the pressure of the first family (Gandhi family), they had cancelled important negotiations over the Rafale deal to benefit their associates and had compromised national security. “The Reliance Dassault agreement dates back to 2012 and it immediately raises the question whether the Congress was trying to deflect its own misdeeds by cancelling the entire process because the French side was not willing to give business to a close associate of the first family i.e. Sanjay Bhandari,” he said.
“Who is Bhandari, what are his relations with the first family of the Congress? What are the angularities that the Congress decided to compromise the national security to drop the procurement of much-needed defence equipment?” Goyal asked adding that it was the time the Congress understood that this government was with the highest standard of transparency and probity.