New Delhi, July 20: In what could cause huge embarrassment to the Congress, France has issued a statement in response to party chief Rahul Gandhi’s statement earlier in the day over the Rafale deal. In a statement, France has said, “We have noted the statement of Mr Rahul Gandhi before the Indian Parliament. France and India concluded in 2008 a Security agreement, which legally binds the two States to protect the classified information provided by the partner that could impact security and operational capabilities of the defence equipment of India or France. These provisions naturally apply to the IGA concluded on 23 September 2016 on the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircraft and their weapons.” (No-confidence Motion LIVE Updates) Also Read - Centre Faces Tough Question as Pressure Mounts to Impose Full Lockdown in India to Beat COVID Surge
France’s response only echoes what Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said in response to Gandhi’s attack. She had said that the India-France agreement to buy the fighter jets was signed in 2008 by then defence minister AK Antony and it had the confidentiality clause. Meanwhile, media reports suggest that Rahul is sticking to his guns and is saying that he stands by what he said. “I stand by what I said. Let them (France) deny if they want. Along with me Anand Sharma and Ex-PM were also there,” DNA quoted him as saying.
Attacking the Centre over the Rafale Deal, Rahul had said in Lok Sabha earlier in the day, “The Government claimed that there is secrecy pact with France on Rafale deal. I personally met PM of France and asked him if any such pact existed, he clearly said there is no pact.” Taking to Twitter, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala presented a proof to support Rahul Gandhi’s stance. Along with the picture, he said, “Proof-Rafale sold same 48 Rafale aircrafts to Egypt and Qatar in 2015 for a mere Euro 7.9 Billion. i.e; 1319.80 Cr per aircraft. Then, why did India pay 1670.70 Cr per Rafale aircraft,purchase of which was announced by PM on 10th April, 2015?”