Millennium Post

PM 'performed bypass surgery' in Rafale deal: Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: Continuing his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Thursday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi be investigated in the NDA government's deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets.

While addressing a press conference over the issue on Thursday, the Congress chief said, "I am not alleging anything anymore... government documents are saying it for themselves."

"The government's admission proved that the papers were "real". The files clearly name the Prime Minister and state the PMO's role in the Rafale deal. They have accepted that these papers were stolen, thereby confirming that these are authentic... so where is the doubt. This is proof," Gandhi said. "PM Modi "performed bypass surgery" in the Rafale deal. The purchase was delayed to benefit Anil Ambani. It is now the court's job and the government's job to ensure that justice is done... You can charge anything you want on anyone, but also press charges on the Prime Minister," the Congress chief added.

Countering Gandhi, the BJP said that it was "unfounded, absolutely shameful allegations on the Prime Minister. Attacking Gandhi, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "Gandhi "will only listen when Pakistan certifies the Rafale deal. He believes in Pakistan more than in India's forces."

The Congress has alleged that the government accepted an overpriced deal in 2016 and overlooked public sector aviation firm Hindustan Aeronautics Limited so that industrialist Anil Ambani's rookie firm Reliance Defence could bag an offset contract. The government, Dassault and Anil Ambani have denied the allegations.

On Wednesday, during a hearing on Rafale at the Supreme Court, which has been requested to reopen the case, the government said classified documents related to the deal were stolen from the defence ministry. The petitioners, who have sought a review of the top court's December verdict that endorsed the process followed in the deal, had accessed those papers illegally, the government said.

The government had also warned about the possibility of the Official Secrets Act being invoked against English daily The Hindu and news agency ANI, which had published reports on the basis of the papers.

"Whether or not the papers were "is a different thing", what is important is that justice must be done on the truth that is written on that piece of paper", Gandhi said.

In its report, the English daily had said that the defence ministry had objected to the "parallel negotiations" for Rafale jets by the Prime Minister's Office.

"It cited an internal note of the ministry, which said "parallel discussions by the PMO has weakened the negotiating positions by the MoD and the negotiating team," the report had said. Another report by the English daily on Wednesday had said the deal became more expensive for India because of France's refusal to provide bank guarantees.

In reply to a question on the comments of Union Minister VK Singh, Gandhi said, "We didn't go to meet Nawaz Sharif. It was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had went to former Pakistan PM and it was Modi who had got Pakistan's ISI to investigate Pathankot incident."

"It's Modi who is going to Sharif's family wedding and they are making us poster boys of Pakistan. It's Modi who is the poster boy of Pakistan as he is hugging Sharif and inviting him to his swearing-in ceremony."

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