NEW DELHI: Raising the pitch further over the Rafale jet deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday launched a direct attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling him “corrupt”.
“The Prime Minister of India is a corrupt person, but he came to power on the expressed promise of fighting corruption,” Rahul said at a Press conference.
He cited a report by French media group Mediapart to allege that the offset contract between the French company and Reliance was a “compensation” for the purchase of Rafale jets.
The media report on Wednesday had claimed, based on internal document of Dassault Aviation, that the company was forced to enter into a joint venture with Reliance Defence as part of a trade-off to bag the contract.
Citing the document, Rahul alleged that at a presentation of the Dassault-Reliance Aerospace joint venture plant in Nagpur on May 11, 2017, the French company’s Chief Operating Officer Loik Segalen had told the staff representatives that “it was imperative and obligatory for Dassault Aviation to accept this compensation in order to obtain the Rafale India export contract”.
“Compensation for what? What has Anil Ambani done? What is he being compensated for, that is the question,” Rahul said.
When asked about Dassault’s clarification, Rahul said the company was under pressure as it was sitting on a huge contract and would say what the Indian government wanted it to say. However, he claimed the “the truth here is going to come out”.
The Congress chief alleged that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had flown to France to exert pressure on Dassault and “cover up” the alleged scam. “Why has suddenly the defence minister rushed to France? What is the emergency?” he asked.
The BJP, in turn, charged Rahul of spreading falsehood on the Rafale deal. Alleging that the Congress leader came from a “family of middlemen”, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, “Who gifted a flat to Robert Vadra (Rahul’s brother-in-law)? The Congress should tell the country, what relation arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari has with Vadra.” He alleged that the Congress was “desperate” as it was not getting “opportunities to get commissions”.