Dassault gave Reliance Rs 284 cr to secure Rafale deal: Rahul Gandhi

Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressed media on Friday, once again targeting the central government over the Rafale deal.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressing media in New Delhi on Friday.(Mohd Zakir/HT photo)
Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressing media in New Delhi on Friday.(Mohd Zakir/HT photo)
Updated on Nov 03, 2018 12:07 AM IST
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New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent

French aircraft manufacturer Dassault gave Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence 284 crore as the “first installment of kickbacks” in order to secure the deal for Rafale fighter jets, Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleged on Friday.

Addressing a news conference at the Congress headquarters in Delhi, Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi “will not survive if the huge corruption” in the purchase of fighter jets was investigated even as he also blamed the Dassault CEO.

Ambani’s Reliance Infrastructure said the Congress’s allegations were “blatant lies”. “It is deeply unfortunate that the Reliance Group and its chairman, Mr Anil Ambani, are continuously being dragged into a political battle in view of the impending state and general elections in the country,” a spokesperson said.

The company added that Dassault’s investment in Reliance Airport Developers Limited, which is the Rs 284 crore referred to by Gandhi, had no links with the Rafale deal.

“The Prime Minister is having sleepless nights. He has lost his sleep because of tension. He knows he will be caught,” Gandhi said. Gandhi said Dassault CEO Eric Trappier had cited non-availability of land as the reason for not giving the offset contract to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). “He had stated that the contract was given to Anil Ambani because he had land. Now, it turns out that Ambani had purchased the land with the money he got from Dassault,” the Congress chief said.

The comments are in keeping with the Congress’s line of attack on the government for its decision to enter an $8.7 billion government-to-government deal to buy 36 Rafale warplanes made by Dassault, which was announced in April 2015. This deal, signed a year later, replaced the previous United Progressive Alliance regime’s decision to buy 126 Rafale aircraft, 108 of which were to be made in India by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. The Congress claims the earlier deal was scrapped and a new one signed just to provide Ambani an opportunity for an offset deal. Both the government and Reliance have repeatedly denied this. Reliance, which is one of many companies to benefit from the deal, formed a joint venture with Dassault for the same.

“HAL has more land that is available here. Why is Dassault CEO lying? Who is he trying to protect? There is only one person the Dassault CEO is protecting and that is the person who runs this country. That is Narendra Modi,” Gandhi said on Friday.

A Dassault representative was not available for comment. Representatives of the government or the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party did not respond to requests for a comment. Reliance also said that it had already acquired the land by the time it entered into a partnership with Dassault.

Gandhi also linked the controversy at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to the alleged wrongdoing on the Rafale deal.

“Obviously, the CBI chief was looking at these papers. It is obvious that there is enough material in the public domain to nail Shri Modi and the CBI chief was removed. So, clearly it is a cover up taking place.” His reference was to CBI director Alok Verma being sent on leave along with the agency’s second senior-most officer, special director Rakesh Asthana, after the two accused each other of corruption.

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Sunday, November 28, 2021