Rahul Gandhi asks why Dassault ‘invested Rs 284 crore in loss-making’ Reliance Defence, calls Rafale deal a partnership between Modi and Anil Ambani.
New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi Friday stepped up his offensive against the Modi government over the Rafale deal, alleging that French aircraft manufacturer Dassault invested Rs 284 crore in a firm owned by Anil Ambani.
“Anil Ambani (owned company) got kickbacks from Dassault Aviation. It is clear that the Dassault CEO is lying. Why did they invest Rs 284 crore in a loss-making company?” asked Gandhi at a press conference here.
Accusing Dassault CEO Eric Trappier of lying, the Congress president said the money, which the French firm allegedly invested, was used by Ambani to buy land.
“The Dassault CEO had said that the reason HAL wasn’t given the contract was that Anil Ambani had land. Now it turns out that the land, which Anil Ambani bought, was with money given by Dassault,” he said citing a media report.
Gandhi also alleged that the deal was giving Prime Minister Narendra Modi sleepless nights, which is why he allegedly recently removed the CBI chief.
“Parrikar (Manohar) clarified that he had nothing to do with the Rafale deal. If an inquiry starts on this, Mr Modi is not going to survive it,” he said.
In a statement, Reliance responded to the allegations, saying that it was “deeply unfortunate” that its chairman, Anil Ambani, was being dragged into a “political battle” due to the upcoming state elections and the 2019 Parliamentary polls.
Targets Dassault over land claims
Gandhi took on the Dassault CEO, saying Trappier had said that they had preferred Reliance Defence over Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) because it had land near an airport in Nagpur.
Only, Gandhi added, Dassault had made Ambani’s Reliance Defence as its offset partner after purchasing land for the Ambani firm.
Terming the Rafale deal as “an open and shut case” he said, “It is a partnership between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Anil Ambani.
“The first of the kickbacks to Anil Ambani has come in. Rs 284 crore was paid to a debt-ridden company. The plot thickens,” he said.
When asked whether the opposition was on board the Congress’ demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee to look into the deal, he said that the Opposition was more than happy to have a JPC.
Reliance rejects charges
Reliance Group, in a statement, denied all charges and said that Dassault Aviation’s investment in Reliance Airport Developers Limited (RADL) has no link with the Rafale fighter jet deal. Reliance also accused the Congress of resorting to “blatant lies” for political gains.
“Investment by Dassault Aviation in RADL, to acquire 34.8 per cent equity stake for Rs 309 crore, was made by way of FDI in September 2017 – nearly 14 months ago, in a transparent manner and in full compliance of applicable laws, keeping in view the management and development of Airport Infrastructure at five locations by RADL,” it said.
The statement also said that allegations about Dassault’s investments in RADL used to pay the land in Mihan near Nagpur where Reliance Defence Ltd and the French company are setting up a manufacturing unit for aerospace components were “factually incorrect”.
“It is deeply unfortunate that the Reliance Group and its Chairman, Anil Ambani, are continuously being dragged into a political battle in view of the impending state and general elections in the country,” the Reliance statement said.