Continuing the war of words over the Rafale deal, the BJP on Tuesday reiterated its charge that the UPA government had withdrawn from it because Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra’s friend Sanjay Bhandari’s firm was not given a contract by Dassault Aviation. The party alleged that Vadra had received a flat in London and air tickets to Zurich from Bhandari to secure defence deals for him.
Rejecting the BJP’s allegations, the Congress said a “desperate” BJP is responding to questions on the Rafale deal with abuses and mudslinging.
“The (Narendra) Modi government should now be called ‘Modi baba and chalis chor’,” Congress’s communication department head Randeep Surjewala said.
Taking the attack to the Prime Minister, Surjewala asked, “Modiji, are you Ambani’s Prime Minister or the country’s Prime Minister?…. The BJP government snatched contract from a government company (HAL) and gave it to private company. Does it not prove that you are not the country’s Prime Minister, but Ambani’s PM?”
Addressing the media, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra released what he called were copies of first-class air tickets and photographs of a London flat that he claimed Bhandari gave to Vadra. “Vadra will go to jail for allegedly helping a defence dealer in bagging contracts during the UPA’s rule,” he said.
Vadra has denied these allegations and has accused the government of political vendetta.
Patra alleged that the UPA government had pulled out of Rafale deal as Dassault Aviation of France refused to accept Bhandari as the “middleman”. He claimed that after the government initiated a probe against Bhandari, documents with minutes of arms deal negotiations were found during a raid in 2016. “Several classified documents were discovered… even papers on Rafale deals were there,” he alleged.
Referring to the Congress’s allegation that the government had made Dassault give the Rs 30,000-crore offset contract to Reliance Defence, instead of public sector HAL, Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “To every Air Force officer and Jawan who has served India. To the family of every martyred Indian fighter pilot. To every person who ever worked for HAL. We hear your pain. We understand how you feel. We will bring to justice all those who dishonoured and stole from you.”