Sitharaman's visit to France 'Great Rafale Cover Up': Rahul Gandhi (Photo Source: PTI)
In another round of blame game over Rafale fighter jet deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi Friday alleged that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's three-day trip to France was a part of a huge government "cover-up" on the multi-crore Rafale 'scam'. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has refuted all such allegations and accused him of spreading lies on the Rafale fighter jet deal.
Lashing out at the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Gandhi scion said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi "is corrupt" and the "PM of Anil Ambani". His statement came on the heels of a French media report which states that aerospace major Dassault had to select Anil Ambani's company for the joint venture as a "mandatory" trade-off to win the 59,000-crore Rafale deal.
"It is absolutely clear that the prime minister is corrupt. I repeat, the prime minister of India is a corrupt man... and sadly, his entire campaign was on fighting corruption," Rahul said while addressing a press conference in the Congress office in Delhi on Thursday.
"He is actually not your prime minister. He is Anil Ambani's prime minister," the Congress chief said about Modi.
Gandhi's contention also included Sitharaman's visit to France, which according to him was part of a "huge cover-up".
"Now you see the defence minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, suddenly leaving for France... that too to visit Dassault... One wonders what the emergency is," Gandhi said.
The #GreatRafaleCoverUp has begun. To try and show the deal is legit, Raksha Mantri will need to generate minutes of imaginary meetings held between the French & our MOD & both sides will need to agree on a common story to be spun to the media.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 11, 2018
RM left for France last night.
"And let me make one more thing very clear... Dassault is sitting on a massive contract... It will obviously say whatever the Indian government wants it to say. But look at the internal documentation in Dassault... that makes it clear as to what had happened"," he added.
Hitting back at the Congress party, the BJP accused Gandhi of spreading lies on the Rafale fighter jet deal.
Union Minister Piyush Goyal dubbed him a "serial liar" in his address to the press in the national capital on Friday.
Repeating a lie "100 times” will not make it a truth, the minister added.
"Congress lied in Parliament too where Rahul Gandhi said he personally met French President and asked him about the secrecy of Rafale deal. It only shows the hollowness of knowledge that he does not know that secrecy pact was done in 2008 by then PM Manmohan Singh," Goyal reiterated.
Meanwhile, Sitharaman on Thursday held wide-ranging talks with her French counterpart Florence Parly and formulated strategies to deepen strategic and defence cooperation between the countries.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the Minister of Armed Forces of France, Florence Parly at the first ministerial meeting of the bilateral Annual Defence Dialogue between India and France in Paris held on 11 Oct. pic.twitter.com/TPBTm2S1tm— ANI (@ANI) October 12, 2018
During her visit to France, the defence minister also visited the Rafale manufacturing facility at the outskirts of Paris to take stock of the progress in the production of the 36 fighter jets for India.