Congress President Rahul Gandhi has launched his most stinging attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal as he demanded that the latter be tried for ‘treason.’
Accusing Modi of violating the Official Secrets Act by acting as Anil Ambani’s middleman in the Rafale deal, Gandhi said that a leaked email conclusively proved that prime minister’s billionaire friend was aware of the deal days before India and France signed it.
Addressing a news conference, Gandhi flashed a copy of a leaked email dated 28 March, 2015, written by Airbus executive Nicolas Chamussy to three recipients with the subject stated as ‘Ambani.’ The Congress president said that the email showed that Ambani visited then French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s office and mentioned a ‘MoU in preparation and the intention to sign during the PM visit (to France).’
He asked how Ambani could talk about the deal in the French defence minister’s office when even then foreign secretary S Jaishankar and then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had no information on it.
BJP, however, rejected the charge, saying the email purportedly by an Airbus executive referred to a helicopter deal and not Rafale, reported news agency PTI.
But Gandhi launched a tirade against Modi, asking for criminal action against him for violating the Official Secrets Act. He told reporters, “This is a breach of the Official Secrets Act. The prime minister who is the only other person who knows about the deal has informed Anil Ambani about the deal. The Prime Minister is acting as Anil Ambani’s middleman.”
Gandhi explained that what was merely an issue of procedural inconsistencies in the past has acquired a sinister colour. He said, “This is now treason, nothing less. Mr Narendra Modi is doing what spies do. He is informing somebody of defence matters, he is under oath to protect these secrets.”
“He has now given this secret to Mr Anil Ambani who knows that the biggest defence deal in the world is going to him 10 days before the deal. This itself is criminal, this itself will put the prime minister in jail,” the Congress chief said.
This comes just days after The Hindu reported how the Indian government had waived off the anti-corruption clause while the signing the Rafale deal with France and overruled financial advisers’ recommendations for making payments through an escrow account.
The newspaper reported that the high-level political intervention days before the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale deal was signed meant that standard Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) clauses on “Penalty for use of Undue Influence, Agents/Agency Commission, and Access to Company accounts” of Dassault Aviation and MBDA France were dropped by the Indian government in the supply protocols.