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Rahul Gandhi's fresh attack: 'PM Modi bypassed Rafale talks despite defence ministry's opposition'

BusinessToday.In     February 8, 2019

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday launched a full-throttle attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that he was directly involved in the Rafale deal talk process and that the defence ministry letter proved that he clearly opposed "your interference in the Rafale deal and you have single-handedly undermined India's position". The Congress president said PM Modi "himself robbed Air Force's Rs 30,000 crore and gave it to Anil Ambani". "We have been raising this since 1 year. Now a report has come where Defence Ministry officials say that the PM was holding parallel negotiations with France government," said Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress party also shared a letter, duly signed by Deputy Secretary (Air-II), SK Sharma, claiming that the PMO was holding parallel discussions with the French team. The letter says: "It is, therefore, clear that such parallel discussions by the PMO have weakened the negotiating positions of MoD and Indian Negotiating Team. We may advise PMO that any officers who are not part of Indian Negotiating Team may refrain from having parallel parlays with the officers of the French government."

SK Sharma also put forward a serious charge through that "in case the PMO is not confident about the outcome of negotiations being carried out by the MoD, a revised modality of negotiations to be led by PMO at the appropriate level may be adopted in the case".

The Congress party on Friday said the letter is "signed, sealed and now delivered for the whole country to see. Your lies are out in the open Modiji, the Defence Ministry clearly opposed your interference in the Rafale deal."

During a press conference, Rahul Gandhi said: "For more than a year, we've been saying that PM is directly involved in Rafale scam. Today it is clear that PM himself had been carrying out a parallel negotiation."

He added that "we (Congress) been saying that there should be an inquiry through JPC. Now Ministry itself has said 'we may advise PMO that any Officers who are not part of Indian Negotiating Team may refrain from having parallel parlays'."

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Rahul Gandhi also accused Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of lying on the issue. "Former French President has admitted that he was made to choose Anil Ambani by PM Modi himself," said the Congress President, adding the government has lied to the Supreme Court too.

Referring to PM Modi's Parliament speech on Thursday, Rahul said: "Yesterday, Modi gave a lengthy sermon, why doesn't he answer these questions? Why doesn't the state the reason for parallel negotiations?"

A fresh attack on Prime Minister Modi by the Congress comes in light of a report published by The Hindu that says "at the height of the negotiations over the controversial Euro 7.87 billion Rafale deal between India and France, the Defence Ministry raised strong objections to "parallel negotiations" conducted by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) with the French side".

Defence experts suggest the Defence Secretary may not prove that there was any corruption but it raises a point if India got the best deal in case of Rafale at all. The BJP, meanwhile, has defended the PMO saying that there's no corruption and that the letter did not raise any wrongdoing.

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Edited by Manoj Sharma

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