New Delhi: A day after former French President François Hollande stated that it was the Indian government who proposed the name of Anil Ambani for the Rafale deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday launched a scathing attack on the central government saying that his party is “absolutely convinced” that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “corrupt.”
While addressing the press conference here, the Gandhi scion said, “The French government has given a statement which is stating what the procedure is.
There was a one-on-one meeting between the Prime Minister of India and the former president of France. In that meeting, the contract was signed and the former president of France has now revealed that in that meeting, I was clearly told that the contract had to go to Anil Ambani.
It is now up to the Prime Minister of India to clear his name. We are absolutely convinced that the Prime Minister of India is corrupt.”
“This is now clearly settled into the mind of the Indian people that ‘Desh ka Chowkidar chor hai’. Now I am trying to help the Prime Minister. I am saying to him to come up and clear his stand. I am trying to protect your office.
Come out and say that this (former) President of France (François Hollande) is not speaking the truth. But you (Prime Minister Modi) are not speaking anything,” he added.
Rahul Gandhi further claimed that people in the central government are making false statements “one after the other” to save Prime Minister Modi as he was the one, who signed the contract.
“Nirmala Sitharaman, Parrikar and Arun Jaitley didn’t sign the Rafale contract. It was signed by Prime Minister Modi. So, the whole thing is to save the Prime Minister. These are not the decisions that we take the way Prime Minister takes them. There is clear-cut corruption in the Rafale deal. The decision was taken by the Prime Minister and the profit has gone to that person, who went to France with the Prime Minister as part of his delegation,” he said.
The Congress president concluded the conference by saying that his party is ready for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the Rafale deal.
“Arun Jaitley has written very nice blogs, but when the question regarding JPC was raised, he remained quiet. They should bring JPC, we will call Hollande also,” Rahul said.
Hollande, in an interview to a media house on Friday, said that Dassault Aviation was given no choice but to partner with Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence for the offset clause in the Rafale fighter jet deal.
In an article published by French journal Mediapart, Hollande, on a question about who selected Reliance as a partner and why, had said that it was the Indian government that proposed Reliance’s name and that Dassault had no choice but to take the company given to it.
“We did not have a say in that. The Indian government proposed this service group, and Dassault negotiated with Ambani. We did not have a choice, we took the interlocutor we were given,” Hollande had said.
The Rafale jets were chosen during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) tenure in 2012. Initially, India had planned to buy 18 off-the-shelf jets from France, with 108 others to be assembled in the country by the state-run aerospace and Defence company HAL.
The Centre led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi scrapped the UPA’s plan in 2015 and announced that it would buy 36 “ready-to-fly” Rafale jets instead of seeking a technology transfer from France’s Dassault Aviation and making the aircraft in India.