Reliance Defence on Tuesday refuted Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s claim that industrialist Anil Ambani was aware of the Rafale jet deal days before India and France signed the agreement, PTI reported. Earlier on Tuesday, Gandhi had accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of treason and claimed he had acted as a middleman for Ambani.
The Congress president had made the allegations during a press conference where he quoted from from a purported email written by an Airbus executive to a French official. Gandhi claimed that Ambani was aware of the Memorandum of Understanding before India and France signed it in 2015.
Citing a report in The Indian Express, Gandhi had said that Ambani had met the then French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian days before the deal was signed during Modi’s visit to France in 2015. Modi had violated the Official Secrets Act by giving Ambani details about the deal that even then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was unaware of, Gandhi claimed.
Reliance Defence, however, said the “proposed Memorandum of Understanding” cited by Gandhi refers to its collaboration on the Airbus Helicopter deal and not the Rafale jet deal. “Purported email being referred by the Congress Party is regarding the discussion between Airbus and Reliance Defence about the civil and defence helicopter programme under Make in India”, the statement said.
The firm’s statement said, “The discussion on the proposed MoU was clearly with reference to cooperation between Airbus Helicopter and Reliance. It had no connection whatsoever with the government to government agreement between France and India for 36 Rafale aircraft.”
The Anil Ambani-led firm accused the Congress of deliberately twisting facts and ignoring reality. “Also, for the record, the Memorandum of Understanding for Rafale aircraft was signed between France and India on January 25 2016 and not in April 2015,” the statement said.
The Congress and other Opposition leaders have repeatedly accused the Centre of irregularities in the Rafale defence deal signed by Modi’s government. The government has denied them, however, and has said this will be a non-issue in the upcoming elections.