Modi won’t survive if Rafale probed, says Rahul; Reliance rebuts charges

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New Delhi/Mumbai:Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday alleged that French defence major Dassault Aviation had paid “kickback” to Reliance to secure the Rafale deal, and claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not survive if the “huge corruption” in the purchase was probed.

Reliance has, however, rubbished the allegations as “blatant lies”.

Rejecting Gandhi’s allegations, Reliance accused the Congress of resorting to “blatant lies” and “distorted facts” to mount an “unwarranted campaign of calumny and falsehoods” against the Group and its Chairman Anil Ambani.

“If an inquiry starts on this (Rafale deal), Modi is not going to survive it, guaranteed,” Gandhi said here alleging the deal to procure 36 Rafale jets was “done by Modi to give Ambani Rs 30,000 crore”.

Gandhi cited two reasons for his claims: “One, because of corruption. Two, because it is very clear who the decision maker was.

“Nobody would be able to say that some General in the Air Force or the Defence Minister or some bureaucrat from the Defence Ministry (was the decision maker).”

Gandhi said that if there was nothing to hide, Modi would have ordered an inquiry into the decision to purchase the fighter jets from France.

“But Modi is silent. He has lost his sleep because of tension as he knows he will be caught.”

Claiming Dassault Aviation “invested Rs 284 crore” in a “loss making” Indian company, Gandhi said it was the “first installment of kickback” that was paid by the French defence major to secure the deal.

He said that Dassault CEO Eric Trappier’s claim that his company chose Reliance as its offsets partner because it had land available next to an airport, had been belied as it had been revealed that the land was bought by the money that was “invested by Dassault”.

Gandhi alleged Trappier was “lying” to save Modi who in April 2015 had announced the inter-governmental deal to buy the jets in “complete violation” of defence procurement policies.

He also alleged that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Alok Kumar Verma was “removed” because he was looking into the documents pertaining to the deal that could “nail” Modi.

“It is obvious that there is enough material in public domain to nail Modi,” he said alleging that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s recent visit to France was a part of a cover-up which the Modi government was indulging in to prevent the truth from coming out.

Gandhi also said that Modi was “terrified” and would never agree for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the deal.

Strongly denying Gandhi’s allegations, Reliance Infrastructure said it was “deeply unfortunate” that the group and its chairman were continuously being dragged into a political battle ahead of the state and general elections.

It said that Dassault’s investment in Reliance Airport Developers Ltd (RADL) had no link with the Rafale contract.

“Congress attacks on Anil Ambani in his individual capacity are shameful and deplorable,” the company said in a statement, adding that Anil Ambani had not entered into any transactions personally with Dassault nor had he derived any personal benefit from any transactions.

It said that RADL transaction was completed in full compliance with applicable FDI and all other regulations and that the information was in public domain since December 2017, nearly a year ago.

“It is clear that the Congress’ consistent allegation that Anil Ambani has received contracts worth Rs 30,000 crore is a blatant attempt to mislead the public for their own political gains and is a concoction of lies,” it said rejecting Congress’ allegation that “land at Mihan, Nagpur was bought from funds provided by Dassault”.

“Any suggestion of any payment to Anil Ambani is absolutely false and mischievous,” it said, adding that payment for the land at Mihan was made from 2015 to 2017, much before the investment by Dassault in RADL.

The company said the Indian and French governments, Dassault and Reliance have clarified on multiple occasions that there was no offset contract for Rs 30,000 crore to Reliance, related to purchase of 36 aircraft.