No Modi minister knew about Rafale deal, says Congress
Continuing its attack on the NDA government, Congress leader Kapil Sibal today (September 25) claimed that no one in the government was aware of the Rafale deal signed between India and France in 2015 except Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former French President Francois Hollande.
"In 2015, when PM Modi visited France, foreign secretary Subramanyam Jaishankar announced that Rafale deal would not be part of discussions between Modi and Hollande. They would only discuss international affairs. But PM announced about the 36 Rafale aircraft deal on April 10, 2015, that India had decided to buy off the shelf," Sibal said.
Sibal said that none of them -- Manohar Parrikar, Arun Jaitley, Nirmala Sitharaman or Sushma Swaraj -- were aware of the new deal announced by PM Modi.
"Parrikar, who was the defence minister at that time was in Goa for some event. Sitharaman has never said that she was told about the deal by the PM. Even Sushma Swaraj wasn't aware because foreign secretary had said that Rafale deal wasn't on the table," Sibal said.
He went on to say that only two people were aware of the deal signed between the two countries -- PM Modi and former President Hollande.
He also claimed that India is not in a position to buy 126 Rafale jets. "India needs 126 Rafale jets but now the government is not in a position to buy the rest. They have already overspent on the initial 36 jets," Sibal said.
ROBERT VADRA WILL GO TO JAIL: BJP
The BJP, who brought in the Robert Vadra angle in the Rafale deal to hit at the Congress-led UPA government today said Vadra along with the Gandhi family has looted the country and he will soon go to jail.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, in a press conference, said, "One day Robert Vadra will go to jail. This is not a political vendetta...but the way this family [Gandhi] and Vadra looted this country, the day will come when he'll go to jail. Even Lalu Prasad was convicted in six fodder scam cases. It took 20 years to get him convicted in fodder scam...[the] same will happen with Vadra."
On Monday, the BJP had accused the Congress to be part of a "nexus" with former France President Hollande to sabotage the procurement. The party alleged that the Congress wanted the Rafale deal scrapped and that its aim was to take revenge on Dassault Aviation (the makers of the jets), who had allegedly refused to work with a company linked to Vadra during the UPA's tenure.
Taking the allegation forward, Patra today said that it was the UPA which dropped Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) from the deal in 2009. "The UPA government ignored HAL's claim to purchase basic training aircraft in 2009 and instead gave it to a Swiss company Pilatus. In return, the party got two commissions in instalments from the company. In 2010, two instalments were deposited in Standard Charter Bank account number 52105058250 -- first on August 25 and the second on October 6.
Meanwhile, the prime minister himself attacked the Congress and said that the party was no longer able to form alliances in India, and was looking for an "international" alliance.
He said lotus -- the symbol of the BJP -- would bloom in every home, state and corner of India as long as Congress leaders kept throwing "mud" at him.
Former French President Francois Hollande's recent claim has intensified the fight between the two parties over the India-France Rafale fighter jets deal. Hollande in an interview to a French media house had said that the Indian government "proposed" Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as Rafale manufacturer Dassault Aviation's Indian partner (for the offset clause of the agreement). "We didn't have any say in the matter," Hollande had said.