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Defence Minister's France Visit Part of Rafale Cover-up, Alleges Rahul Targeting Modi Govt

At a press conference in the national capital, Rahul asked why was the Defence Minister suddenly rushed to France to Rafale's plant?


Updated:October 11, 2018, 3:05 PM IST
New Delhi: Calling Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman’s ongoing three-day trip to France a part of the “cover up” by the government in the Rafael deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said details of other “contracts” given to benefit industrialist Anil Ambani will soon come out.

“Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's trip to France is part of a huge government "cover-up" on Rafale. This is a clear cut case of corruption. This is not only about Rafael or defence industry. There are other contracts. More information about other contracts will come. Similar questions will be raised about other contracts,” Rahul said addressing a press conference in Delhi.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman left for France Wednesday night on a three-day visit which comes amid a massive controversy over the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace company Dassault Aviation under a Rs 58,000-crore deal.

Officials sources said Sitharaman will hold wide-ranging talks with her French counterpart Florence Parly on ways to deepen strategic cooperation between the two countries.

They said Sitharaman will also take stock of progress in the supply of the Rafale jets by Dassault to the Indian Air Force. There was indication that she may even visit the facility where the jets are being manufactured.

Sitharaman's visit comes nearly three weeks after former French President Francois Hollande was quoted by French publication 'Mediapart' as saying that Indian government proposed the name of Reliance to partner with Dassault Aviation for the Rafale deal.

Congress president referred to reports in French media quoting internal memos of Dassault indicating senior company executives saw association with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group as a “compensation” in the Rafale deal and that it was both “imperative and obligatory” for Dassault in securing the fighter contract.

On being asked about the subsequent clarifications issued by the French Aviation giant, Rahul said the company "was sitting on a huge contract".

"Dassault is going to say what Indian government is going to say," Congress president added.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court asked the centre to submit details of the decision making process in the Rafale deal. The court made it clear that it was not asking for information on the price of fighter jets and other technical details.

In another explosive investigative report, French publication ‘Mediapart’ claimed Dassault Aviation signing Reliance Defence was “imperative and mandatory” to bag the Rafale jets contract.

Rafale is a twin-engine medium multi-role combat aircraft manufactured by Dassault Aviation, a French firm.

The Congress has alleged corruption in the purchase of 30 fighter jets finalised by the Narendra Modi government and has been seeking an investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee.

| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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