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Row over Rafale deal continues; Rahul aims barbs at BJP, govt hits back

Archis Mohan/New Delhi 11 Oct 18 | 11:02 PM

Amid fresh revelations in the Rafale fighter jet deal, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said soon details of other deals struck under the Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi-led government will come out in the public domain.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Sambit Patra rejected Rahul Gandhi’s allegation of corruption against the PM in the Rafale deal. He accused the Congress chief of “lying through his teeth shamelessly" and indulging in “politics of misinformation" to build his political career.

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In the afternoon, Rahul Gandhi said: “One thing is very clear... India’s PM got the Rafale contract for Anil Ambani’s company and this is not the only contract, some more defence contracts will come," he said, adding that questions will be raised on all defence contracts.

On cases of corruption against Congress leaders and his own family, Rahul Gandhi said, the BJP was in government and could carry out any kind of investigation. He said Modi was a “corrupt man". He also described Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s three-day visit to France as part of a “great cover-up".

Gandhi’s allegations came a day after a report in a French publication that said Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale, had to choose Ambani’s firm Reliance Defence as its offset partner in India as a trade-off for getting the deal. It corroborated the statement of former French President François Hollande.

The Modi government has insisted it had no role in Dassault’s choice of Reliance Defence. Dassault Aviation said in a statement that it has “freely chosen to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group".

“In compliance with the Indian regulations (Defence Procurement Procedure) and as frequent with such a contract, Dassault Aviation has committed to offsets in India worth 50 per cent of the value of the purchase," it said in its reaction, following the Mediapart report.

“In order to deliver some of these offsets, Dassault Aviation has decided to create a joint-venture. Dassault Aviation has freely chosen to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group," it said.

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