Ravi Shankar Prasad attacked Congress chief Rahul Gandhi over the Rafale deal.
Braving caustic attacks from the Congress on the new revelations in the Rafale controversy, the BJP today hit back with allegations of its own. “Why was the Rafale deal sent back for re-examination in 2012 just six months after Dassault was identified as the lowest bidder? Our explicit charge is this: they (Congress) did not get a bribe, that’s why,” Law Minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said at a news conference.
Mr Prasad lashed out at Congress chief Rahul Gandhi who said former French President Francois Hollande “is calling PM Modi a thief”. An interview of Mr Hollande to a French journal stoked a major controversy yesterday after he said that the Indian government had mandated that industrialist Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence must be taken up as the Indian partner in the deal with France’s Dassault Aviation.
“It is very shameful, irresponsible. No national president of any party has used such words against a PM of the country before. We can’t expect anything else from Rahul Gandhi. He is chargesheeted in the National Herald case with his mother. He is silent on land grabbing case against his brother-in-law,” Mr Prasad said.
Mr Prasad also contended that Reliance figured in the Rafale fighter jet contract even when the Congress-led UPA government was in power. However, he later conceded that the company in question then was led by Mukesh Ambani and eventually shut down its defence business. The company now at the centre of the controversy is the Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence which has a joint venture with Dassault called DRAL or Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited.
Ruling out Mr Gandhi’s demand for a joint parliamentary committee probe into the deal, he told the press conference that it cannot be done merely to satisfy the ego of “an arrogant and ill-informed leader repeating lies after lies”.
Mr Prasad also cited statements of the French government and Dassault in which they said Indian and French governments had no role in picking the offset partner, to brush aside the charge of corruption.
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