New Delhi: Accusing him of being a “corrupt man”, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday demanded a probe into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in the Rafale deal.
Mr Gandhi said the PM helped a top industrialist pocket Rs 30,000 crores in the purchase of 36 aircraft.
The Congress president’s demand for an investigation against the PM comes a day after a French publication reported Dassault Aviation, the Rafale’s manufacturer, had to choose a particular firm as its offset partner in India as a tradeoff for getting the deal.
The Bharatiya Janata Party on its part accused the Congress president of mocking national security and said the leader was trying to build his political career by spreading lies on the Rafale deal.
Addressing a special press conference, Mr Gandhi said defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s three-day trip to France from Thursday was part of a coverup by the government on the Rafale deal. “Why has the defence minister suddenly rushed to France? What is the emergency? The reality is the Prime Minister is corrupt. The Prime Minister of India is a corrupt man,” he said.
The Congress Party is running a campaign on what it calls the “massive irregularities” in the deal. It said the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crores, against the Rs 526 crores finalised by the UPA government, when it negotiated the procurement of 126 Rafale jets.
The party is also seeking answers from the government on why state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd was not involved in the deal as finalised under UPA rule.
BJP spokesman Sambit Patra attacked the Congress chief on Thursday, saying that he “comes from a family of middlemen”. Mr Patra charged that his family had earned money from every defence deal before 2014, and added: “Mr Gandhi is trying to build his political career by spreading lies about the Rafale deal”.
The BJP spokesman accused the Congress president of “lying” and “mocking national security”. He said while Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa had termed the Rafale deal a “game-changer”, Mr Gandhi was saying just the opposite. He then added: “Now the people of the country will decide who to believe: the air chief marshal or Mr Gandhi?”