Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s integrity and called him “corrupt” after former French president Francois Hollande’s shocking revelation about the controversial deal of 36 French-manufactured Rafale aircraft.
Addressing a presser on the issue in New Delhi, Gandhi said, “We are absolutely convinced that the Prime Minister of India is corrupt. This question is now clearly settled in the mind of the Indian people that ‘desh ka chowkidaar’ chor hai (Country's watchman is a thief).”
The latest attack on Modi came a day after former French president Francois Hollande reportedly revealed that the Indian government had “proposed” Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the partner for Dassault Aviation in the Rafale jet fighter deal.
“We didn’t have a say in that. It was the Indian government that proposed this service group (Reliance), and Dassault who negotiated with Ambani. We didn’t have a choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us,” French news website Mediapart.fr quoted Hollande, who held the office of President of France until Emmanuel Macron succeeded him in May 2017, as saying.
Hollande’s revelation contradicted the Modi government’s claim that it had no role in deciding the Indian partner for Dassault Aviation, which is responsible for making the Rafale aircraft.
“For the first time, an ex-French President is calling our PM a thief. It is a question of the dignity of the office of Prime Minister. It is the question of the future of our jawans and the Air Force,” the Gandhi scion said.
“It is very important for PM now to either accept Mr. Hollande’s statement or state that Mr Hollande is lying and tell what the truth is,” the Congress president said asking Modi to clarify on his statement.
Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry maintained that the Government of India as well as the French government had no role in the “commercial decision” of choosing Reliance Defence as the offshore partner of Dassault Aviation.
“The report referring to fmr French president Mr. Hollande’s statement that GOI insisted upon a particular firm as offset partner for the Dassault Aviation in Rafale is being verified. It is reiterated that neither GoI nor French Govt had any say in the commercial decision,” the Defence Ministry had said.