Did Nirmala Sitharaman just confirm quid pro quo in Rafale deal?

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has unknowingly caused a bigger embarrassment for Prime Minister Narendra Modi amidst the raging controversy on the Rafale deal. While speaking to reporters in Chennai, Sitharaman stopped short of admitting that there was quid pro quo between Anil Ambani and Former French President Francois Hollande before the Rafale deal was signed between India and France.

Nirmala Sitharaman

Explaining why Hollande may have been forced to reveal that it was the Modi government, which suggested the name of Ambani’s Reliance for the offset partner, Sitharaman hinted at the allegations of quid pro quo between the then French President and Anil Ambani.

She said, “Here was a former president of France, who himself is …I don’t know whether it’s true or not..is facing an allegation. May be true, it may not be true, I don’t know..Facing an allegation of his associate having received some funds for some purpose. And in such a situation, here’s the President (Hollande) is saying this. Does it mean, he just wanted this journalist off his back and, therefore, he wanted to say something. And he said something different elsewhere later.”

The allegation faced by Hollande is that Anil Ambani’s Reliance may have agreed to fund the Hollywood project of Hollande’s partner Julie Gayet.

Sitharaman, who has constantly been causing an embarrassment for her government with her inconsistencies on the Rafale scam, did not realise the implication of Saturday’s statement. But her supporters were quick to remind her of the severity of her comments. Chitra Subramaniam, advisor to BJP MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s Republic TV, tweeted, “Hope @DefenceMinIndia appreciates the gravity of this statement she made today at OTA in Chennai? Is she confirming a quid pro quo which was earlier referred to by French media? @jubouissou @dhanyarajendran @republic #RafaleDeal”

Subramaniam was responding to a tweet posted by journalist Shabbir Ahmed, who was present at Sitharaman’s press conference. Ahmed wrote, “Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharam pointing out at the transaction between Ex President Francoise Hollande’s partner & reliance & says Hollande is making statements despite being accused of his partner recieving funds…isn’t it an admission? #RafaleDeal.”

Janta Ka Reporter last year exclusively revealed the alleged scam in the Rafale deal through a three-part series, You can read them here Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3).

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