New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday again cornered Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the ongoing Rafale controversy, alleging that a senior official of Dassault aviation has reiterated former French President Francois Hollande’s claim that PM Modi had forced them give the contract to Reliance Defence Limited.
“Earlier former French President revealed that Indian PM had told them that Reliance should get a deal. Now a senior official of Rafale has said the same. It is a clear cut case of corruption,” said Gandhi.
“Rafale company’s senior executive has clearly stated that choosing Anil Ambani’s company was a compensation for the purchase of Rafale. They have admitted that it was ‘imperative and obligatory’ for Dassault Aviation to accept this compensation in order to obtain Rafale contract,” he said.
The Congress president, who demanded a probe against Modi, did not provide any evidence to back his allegations against the prime minister.
Calling the prime minister a “corrupt person”, the Congress president alleged that the former took Rs 30,000 crore from the people of the country and gave it to Anil Ambani.
“I would like to clearly tell the youth of the country that the Prime Minister of India is a corrupt person,” said Rahul Gandhi.
“Farmers are in distress but your prime minister is doing the chowkidari of one individual Anil Ambani,” he added.
The Congress president further alleged that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s trip to France is part of a huge government “cover-up” on Rafale.
“Now I have heard that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has also travelled to France. Don’t know what the urgency was,” he said.
The fresh round of allegations by the Congress president comes after a French investigative website claimed it had access to an internal document of Dassault Aviation that the latter had no option but to tie up with Reliance Defence as the offset partner in the Rafale deal.
However, refuting the claim, Dassault Aviation said that it had “freely chosen to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group”.
On this, Rahul Gandhi said that Dassault will speak the Indian government’s language since it is “sitting on a huge contract”.
“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,” he said.
The opposition led by the Congress has been accusing the government of benefiting Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Ltd. from the Rafale deal. The government and Reliance Defence have dismissed all the allegations as false.
The Rafale controversy took a new turn last month after Francois Hollande, who was French president when the Rs 58,000-crore deal was announced, was quoted as saying by French publication Mediapart that France was given “no choice” on selection of the Indian partner for Dassault, the manufacturer of Rafale jets.
The Indian government proposed the name of Reliance as offset partner for the French aerospace giant, he said. However, the government maintained its stand that it had no role in choosing the Indian offset partner for Dassault.
Modi had announced the procurement of 36 Rafale fighters after holding talks with Hollande on April 10, 2015, in Paris.