Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of altering India’s Rafale deal with France “for [the] benefit of one businessman”, ANI reported. Later on Twitter, he asked how the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence, a company with “nil experience in aerospace”, could have won the contract to execute part of the agreement.
Gandhi’s statements come two days after the Congress alleged a “huge scam...brewing” in the Rafale deal, and accused the government of “promoting the interests of prime minister’s crony capitalist friends”.
The Anil Ambani-led company had called the allegations “baseless” and “unfounded”, and threatened the Congress party with legal action if it did not withdraw the charges, NDTV reported.
Despite the company’s statement, Gandhi shared an editorial on Twitter on Thursday, criticising the Narendra Modi government for Reliance Defence’s participation in a joint venture formed to execute part of the Rafale deal.
“Can you explain ‘Reliance’ on someone with nil experience in aerospace for Rafale deal? Self ‘Reliance’ is obviously a critical aspect of ‘Make in India’”, he tweeted.
He also wrote: “Modi ji – nice touch removing the suit. What about the loot?”
In September 2016, India and France had signed an agreement through which France would supply New Delhi with 36 Rafale fighter aircraft, to be delivered between September 2019 and April 2022.
Days after the agreement, Reliance Defence signed a deal with Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale fighter jets. The tie-up was to assist the French defence firm in investing around Rs 30,000 crore in India as part of the company’s 7.87-billion-euro (approximately Rs 59,300 crore) Rafale jet deal.