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Regular-article-logo Thursday, 20 June 2024

Modi can be jailed over Rafale, says Rahul

Airbus email on Anil Ambani opens new flank

Our Special Correspondent New Delhi Published 12.02.19, 10:47 PM
Congress president Rahul Gandhi at a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi at a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. Picture by Prem Singh

A spokesperson for Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence said in a statement: “Purported email being referred by the Congress party is regarding the discussion between Airbus and Reliance Defence regarding Civil & Defence Helicopter Programs under ‘Make in India’. The discussion on proposed MoU was clearly with reference to cooperation between Airbus Helicopter and Reliance. It had no connection whatsoever with Government to Government Agreement between France and India for 36 Rafale aircraft.”

The statement added: “It is in public domain that Airbus Helicopter has partnered with Mahindra for the Military Helicopter Programme. Also, for the record, the MoU for Rafale aircraft was signed between France and India on January 25 2016 and not in April 2015. From the above, it is evident that the facts are being deliberately twisted and reality being ignored.”

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Rahul was insistent, tweeting in the afternoon: “By leaking information on the RAFALE MoU in advance to Anil Ambani, the PM has broken the Official Secrets Act and compromised National Security, opening himself up to criminal prosecution. Please WATCH & SHARE this video with highlights from my press conference today.”

Asked if the Congress would file an FIR if the evidence was clinching, he said: “We are placing the facts before the people. We are doing our job. Our job is to inform the people and mount pressure on the government.”

On a question about the CAG report, Rahul said: “We have said that the gentleman himself is involved in this decision making. So, that CAG report is a worthless report. In fact, I would term it as a ‘Chowkidar Auditor General Report.’ It is a report written for the Chowkidar, on behalf of the Chowkidar, for the Chowkidar.”

He added that the Congress wasn’t opposed to CAG as an institution.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said Narendra Modi had violated the oath of secrecy by informing Anil Ambani of his intention to change the Rafale deal and that is enough to send the Prime Minister to jail.

“There are three issues: One, corruption; two, procedural aspect and three, revealing a defence secret. Forget the first two, it is clear today that the Prime Minister compromised with national security. He told Ambani what the defence minister and the foreign secretary didn’t know, the entire defence establishment didn’t know. The Prime Minister was acting as Anil Ambani’s middle man,” Rahul told a media conference.

“This is now treason, this is nothing less. Narendra Modi is doing what spies do. He is informing somebody of a defence matter. He is under oath; he is not like you, he is under oath to protect these secrets and he is now giving the secrets to Anil Ambani, who knows 10 days before that the biggest defence deal in the world is going to him. This itself is criminal. This itself will put the Prime Minister in jail.”

Rahul read out an e-mail that Nicolas Chamussy, executive vice-president, space systems, Airbus Defence and Space, purportedly wrote: “For info, just had C. Salomon (adviser to J.Y. Le Drian) on the phone. A. Ambani visited the minister’s office (Mallet, Salomon, Bouquot) this week (confidential and planned as you can imagine with very short notice). Told them he intends to work with AH on commercial helos and then on defence. Mentioned a MoU in preparation and the intention to sign during the PM visit. Told him that on our side we are checking the right way forward, there are other potential partners. Suggest we send him a short note about our position.”

Jean-Yves Le Drian is the French defence minister while Jean Claude Mallet, Christophe Salomon and Geoffrey Bouquot are the minister’s advisers. “Helos” is the short form for helicopters while AH (based on a statement issued by Reliance Defence of Anil Ambani) appears to be a reference to Airbus Helicopters, the aerospace corporation’s chopper manufacturing division.

Rahul said: “MoU in preparation is the key word. Now, couple of questions arise. No. 1 — How is Mr Anil Ambani meeting the French defence minister, just prior to the Prime Minister’s meeting? Second and most important question — foreign secretary said just before the PM’s visit ‘my understanding is that there is discussion underway between the French company and the ministry of defence and HAL…. These are ongoing discussions, are very technical detailed discussion, we do not mix up leadership even in the security’. Defence minister Parrikar had said after the deal was signed that he did not know about this new deal. HAL was negotiating with Rafale but was unaware that they have been kicked out of negotiation.”

Rahul added: “This is a breach of the Official Secrets Act. The Prime Minister, who is the only other person who knows about this deal, has informed Anil Ambani, and Anil Ambani is telling the French that he is going to be getting a deal which he gets. He opens the company after this conversation. The Prime Minister is acting as Mr Anil Ambani’s middleman and this is black and white for anybody who wants to read it. Now the Prime Minister of India needs to explain this to people.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the launch of 'Swachh Shakti 2019 programme' in Kurukshetra on Tuesday, February 12, 2019.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the launch of 'Swachh Shakti 2019 programme' in Kurukshetra on Tuesday, February 12, 2019. (PTI)

RCom chairman Anil Ambani leaves after appearing at the Supreme Court in connection with a contempt petition filed by Ericsson India against him over non-payment of dues, in New Delhi on Tuesday, February 12, 2019.

RCom chairman Anil Ambani leaves after appearing at the Supreme Court in connection with a contempt petition filed by Ericsson India against him over non-payment of dues, in New Delhi on Tuesday, February 12, 2019. (PTI)

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