Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi "corrupt" over the Rafale deal. The Congress-led opposition and the BJP have been sparring over the issue for more than a month.
While addressing a press conference, Rahul said that the "reality is that the Prime Minister of India is corrupt." Incidentally, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman is on a three-day visit to France amid controversy around the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation. Official sources said Sitharaman will hold wide-ranging talks with her French counterpart Florence Parly on ways to deepen strategic cooperation and also deliberate on major regional and global issues of mutual interests.
Dassault Aviation, the company manufacturing the aircraft had issued a statement clarifying on the pact with the Indian government, reiterating that it "freely chosen to make partnership with India's Reliance Group".
Rahul quoted the document citing a senior executive at Dassault, which was reported by French journal Mediapart. He further drew links between Anil Ambani, whose company is the Indian partner in the manufacturing of the Rafale aircraft, and Modi, saying that "the prime minister is not India's chowkidaar, he is Ambani's chowkidaar". He added, "What is Ambani being compensated for (by being given the deal)?"
Dassault is sitting on a huge contract. Dassault will say what the Indian govt wants it to say. Their internal document clearly stated that PM has said without this compensation the deal will not be done: Congress President Rahul Gandhi #RafaleDeal pic.twitter.com/fTYq7bFZ7L
— ANI (@ANI) October 11, 2018
After the press conference, Rahul also tweeted about Sitharaman’s France trip and said, “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.”
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. — Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 11, 2018
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also questioned the timing of Sitharaman’s visit. In a series of tweets he said:
French Media Exposes the ‘Sweetheart Deal’ as Defence Minister rushes to France!
Why did RM (Rafale Mantri) rush to France? Was it to cover up and hide the tracks of Rafale Corruption? 1/2 #RafaleScamGrandExpose
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) October 11, 2018
Modi Govt says Dassault chose Reliance Defence as Offset partner. Did Dassault contradict their own document & statement of their Senior Executive? Will the Modi Govt come clean? #RafaleScamGrandExpose 2/2 — Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) October 11, 2018
In the statement released on the company's official website, titled 'Rafale contract for India: clarifications by Dassault Aviation', the company also said that, it has committed to offsets in India worth 50 percent of the value of the purchase of 36 Rafale jets "within the framework of the September 2016 Inter-Government Agreement between France and India" and in "compliance with the Indian regulations".
In conclusion, Rahul said that "Rafale is a clear-cut case of corruption." He said that "the country will realise that the prime minister is corrupt as truths come out one by one".
Addressing the youth of the country, the Congress president said, "Modi came to power on the expressed purpose of fighting corruption, but I want to tell the young people that the prime minister is corrupt." Making further allegations, Rahul said that Rafale is "not the only contract" and added that soon there would be information on other such contracts.
He also demanded a JPC probe into the controversy that has dominated national headlines for over a month. Rahul also questioned Sitharaman's visit to France. "What is the emergency for which the defence minister needed to go to France?" he said.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Oct 11, 2018 15:22:10 IST