PM acting as Anil Ambani's middleman, claims Rahul
NEW DELHI: The war of words between the Congress and the BJP over the Rafale issue turned uglier Tuesday as Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "treason" and acting as Anil Ambani's middleman, prompting the ruling party to claim that he worked as a lobbyist for foreign firms.
The Gandhi family has a history of "looting" the country, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a counter-attack, adding that it was the height of "shamelessness and irresponsibility" that the Congress president "abused" the "honest" prime minister Modi.
Firing a fresh salvo at Modi, Gandhi released to the media an email dated March 28, 2015, purportedly written by Airbus executive Nicolas Chamussy to three recipients with the subject line "Ambani".
Quoting from the email, Gandhi claimed that Ambani was aware in advance of the Rafale deal before India and France announced it in 2015 during Modi's visit to the country and said that it violated the Official Secrets Act.
Modi's action "puts him in jail", he said.
Dubbing Gandhi a "lying machine", Prasad asserted that the email referred to a chopper deal and not the Rafale purchase and also put Airbus in a dock by saying that it is under a needle of suspicion in several deals signed during the UPA era.
Reacting to Gandhi's claim, Ambani's Reliance Defence said the "proposed MoU" mentioned in the email cited by him was a reference to its cooperation with Airbus Helicopter and had "no connection" with the fighter jet contract.
In its response to Prasad's remarks against Airbus, its spokesperson said, "We do not comment on an ongoing investigation. We have cooperated with the Indian authorities in the past and will continue to do so."
At his press conference, Gandhi claimed the email showed Ambani visited then French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian's office and mentioned a "MoU in preparation and the intention to sign during the PM visit (to France)".