New Delhi, Sept 21: Training guns at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Friday accused him of personally renegotiating the Rafale fighter jet deal with former French president François Hollande to benefit "bankrupt" Anil Ambani.
The Gandhi scion's fresh salvo came shortly after Hollande was quoted by a French French journal Mediapart saying that the Indian government forced Dassault Aviation to choose Reliance Defence Ltd of Anil Ambani as the offset partner.
"The PM personally negotiated and changed the Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to a bankrupt Anil Ambani. The PM has betrayed India. He has dishonoured the blood of our soldiers," Gandhi said on Twitter.
The PM personally negotiated & changed the #Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to a bankrupt Anil Ambani.
The PM has betrayed India. He has dishonoured the blood of our soldiers.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 21, 2018
Former French President François Hollande contradicts the Indian government. According to him, Anil Ambani (Reliance Defence) was not chosen by Dassault : "We didn't have a choice. We took the partner that was given to us" #Rafalehttps://t.co/YX1rMQlqvk
— julien bouissou (@jubouissou) September 21, 2018
Lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan, who has petitioned before the Supreme Court against the alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal, said the government should clarify on the statements of Hollande, as quoted in the French journal.
Bhushan pointed out that the Reliance Defence Ltd, which was selected as offset partner, has no experience in aircraft maintenance. The company was irrationally chosen over the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which has been involved in defence production since 1969.
Hollande's purported statement is likely to land the Narendra Modi government in the dock in the crucial election year as it contradicts the government's stand so far. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the government had no role to play in the selection of Reliance Defence Ltd as the offset partner by Dassault, the manufacturing company of Rafale jets.