NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi is involved in a "conspiracy, internationally" and former French President Francois Hollande is part of the "nexus" to sabotage the Rafale deal, the BJP alleged Monday, claiming that the Congress chief wants it scrapped to help a firm linked to his brother-in-law Robert Vadra.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Union minister Gajendra Shekhawat dragged the Gandhi family into the intensifying political row over the fighter aircraft deal, alleging that the UPA government had called off the multi-billion USD deal after a private company linked to Vadra was not chosen as a broker.
At a press conference, he named a private firm and claimed its owner had been working with Vadra.
These allegations have been denied by Vadra.
He also hinted at Pakistan's role in the conspiracy, saying one of its leaders, former interior minister Rehman Malik, has even tweeted that Gandhi will be the next Indian prime minister.
Referring to Hollande's reported comments that the Indian government had proposed Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as a partner for Dassault Aviation for the Rafale deal, he said, "How Rahul Gandhi and he are linked as a part of nexus, and are trying to sabotage the deal needs to be understood."
There is a conspiracy to get the deal scrapped, defame the country and lower the morale of Indian Air Force, Shekhawat alleged.
Gandhi is doing a "conspiracy, internationally", he alleged.
Separately, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman spoke about an "international dimension" to Gandhi's attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the deal, and told reporters that Hollande's comments were not a coincidence.
Hollande had reported to have said last week that France had no say in an Anil Ambani-led company being chosen as an offset partner by Dassault, which manufactures Rafale, and India had proposed its name.
He later clarified that he was not aware if India had put any pressure on France.
In a no-holds-barred attack on the Congress, Shekhawat accused it of compromising national interest to protect Vadra and his friend's commercial interests.
Referring to Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's statements in Pakistan long back that Narendra Modi needs to be removed as the prime minister, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra drew a parallel between the opposition party and Pakistani leaders, saying "both want Prime Minister Narendra Modi removed from Indian politics".
He read out tweets attacking Modi posted by Pakistani leaders, including its Prime Minister Imran Khan and present and former ministers, and said it looked like they have been campaigning for Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
"Some people want Gandhi to become a big leader in India. Who are they? They are Pakistani leaders, and also those who stand for corruption, dynasty and politics of appeasement," Patra told reporters.
The Congress and Pakistan have this commonality that they have "frustration" with Modi, and their "only aim is to remove Modi anyway from Indian polity", he claimed.
One of the tweets he quoted was posted by Rehman Malik, former interior minister of Pakistan, who said Rahul Gandhi would be the next Indian prime minister and Modi is scared of him.