New Delhi: Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said the government will not cancel the contract for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets with France irrespective of the allegations of corruption as he claimed that former French President Francois Hollande had "orchestrated" his statement with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to manufacture controversy.
WATCH: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaks to ANI over former French President Francois Hollande's recent revelati… https://t.co/48drvb5GJe— ANI (@ANI) September 23, 2018
Pointing towards a tweet made by Gandhi on August 30 that said “some bombs are going to burst in Paris in the next couple of weeks”, Jaitley said that the entire controversy seems to have been orchestrated to target the Narendra Modi government.
“It was not a mere coincidence that the Opposition leaders of the two countries were speaking in one voice on the controversial Rafale issue,” he told news agency ANI in an interview.
When pressed further to clearly state if he is alleging that the Opposition of both France and India were in cahoots with each other, Jaitley added: "I don't know. But I see a perfect coincidence in the rhythm between his tweet on August 30 and what happens when a statement is made which is found to be inaccurate and, therefore, the next day itself, Mr Hollande goes and starts backtracking it."
Jaitley said he doesn't have proof of this "jugalbandi" between Rahul Gandhi and Francois Hollande, but the timing does raise a question.
Rahul Gandhi had on August 30 tweeted: "Globalised corruption. This #Rafaleaircraft really does fly far and fast! It's also going to drop some big bunker buster bombs in the next couple of weeks. Modi Ji please tell Anil, there is a big problem in France."
Weeks later, Hollande told a French media outlet on Friday that the Indian government had proposed Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as the India partner in the Rafale fighter jet deal and not given them a choice.
The statement has been used by the Congress to attack PM Narendra Modi, with Gandhi calling him a “thief” and demanding his resignation.
“It is very important for PM now to either accept Mr. Hollande’s statement or state that Mr. Hollande is lying. He must tell us what the truth is. It is a question of the dignity of the office of Prime Minister. It is the question of the future of our jawans and the Air Force,” Gandhi said on Saturday, adding that for the first time, “an ex-French President has called our PM a thief”.