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Clear-cut corruption in Rafale deal, PM must clarify stance, says Rahul Gandhi

Congress president Rahul Gandhi at the press conference on the Rafale deal on Saturday.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi at the press conference on the Rafale deal on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

He also claimed that various defence ministers of the NDA government have been lying to protect Mr. Modi.

Armed with a statement of former French President Francois Hollande, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr. Gandhi alleged that the evidence of corruption in the Rafale deal — which was exclusively negotiated by Mr. Modi to hand over a ₹30,000 crore contract to industrialist Anil Ambani — was undeniable.

Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Congress president’s remarks were “shameful and irresponsible,” and the head of no other party had ever used such language against a Prime Minister.

“It is up to the Prime Minister to clear his name,” Mr. Gandhi said.

‘Convinced that PM is corrupt’

“We are absolutely convinced that the Prime Minister of India is corrupt. This question is clearly settled into minds of people that Desh Ka Chowkidar Chor Hai (the country’s watchman is a thief),” Mr. Gandhi said on Saturday.

Mr. Gandhi was addressing a press conference in the national capital on comments made by former French President Francois Hollande on Friday that Dassault Aviation (manufacturers of Rafale fighter aircraft) was given no choice but to partner with Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence for the offset clause in the fighter jet deal.

Midway through the press conference, directly addressing the “youth” of the country Mr. Gandhi said, “Do remember, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the man you trusted, has personally handed over ₹30,000 crore contract to Anil Ambani, who never made aircraft in his life. He took money from your pockets to put it in Mr Ambani’s pocket,” Mr. Gandhi said.

Dignity of PMO at stake

A clarification from Mr Modi was essential, Mr Gandhi said, because the attack is not just on an individual; it was now a question of the dignity of the office of the Prime Minister.

 

“What the ex-President of France is saying is that Prime Minister of India is a thief. It is very important for the Prime Minister now to either accept Mr. Hollande’s statement or say that Mr. Hollande is not telling the truth and here is the truth. For the first time probably in Indian history, an ex-President is calling our PM a thief,” the Congress chief said.

Mr. Gandhi also said that though the deal was not signed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman or Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, they were defending it.

“What I am surprised by is that Prime Minister is completely silent. Not one word has come from PM on this comment. After all, this gentleman is not just any person. This gentleman is the ex-President of France, who had one-on-one meeting with the Prime Minister where the Rafale deal was decided,” Mr. Gandhi said.

No denial by French

He also pointed out that the French government’s statement did not deny any of the allegations made by Mr. Hollande and spoke only of the established procedures.

 

He also pointed out the many “flip-flops” made by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on the issue of making the price of the Rafale aircraft public.

The Congress has been demanding a joint parliamentary committee probe into the matter.

Prasad blames UPA

Reacting to Mr. Gandhi’s comments, Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad said a pact was signed between Reliance Industries and Dassault way back in 2012, when the UPA was in power.

Mr. Prasad again ruled out a probe by a joint parliamentary committee, saying it cannot be done to satisfy the ego of an “ill-informed leader”.

The Minister accused Mr. Gandhi of “playing into the hands of Pakistan and China” by seeking the details of the Rafale jets. He also alleged that there was pressure for extraneous considerations and “bribe” for not finalising the Rafale deal during the UPA rule.

Rahul Gandhi's press conference on Rafale Deal: "Why is the Prime Minister Silent?"

(Video by Sandeep Saxena)

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 3:06:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/clear-cut-corruption-in-rafale-deal-pm-must-clear-stand-says-rahul-gandhi/article25015305.ece

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