- Rahul Gandhi wants Rafale deal scrapped to help Robert Vadra: minister
- Gajendra Shekhawat alleged UPA called off deal after a firm wasn't chosen
- The BJP has been under the opposition's attack over the Rafale deal
After Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, on Monday it was junior Agriculture Minister Gajendra Shekhawat's turn to defend the BJP from the relentless Congress onslaught over the Rafale fighter jet deal controversy.
Alleging that Rahul Gandhi was involved in a "conspiracy, internationally" and former French President Francois Hollande is part of the "nexus" to sabotage the Rafale deal, the BJP leader claimed that the Congress chief wants it scrapped to help a firm linked to his brother-in-law Robert Vadra.
Dragging the Gandhi family into the intensifying political row over the fighter aircraft deal, Mr Shekhawat alleged that the Congress-led UPA government had called off the multi-billion dollar deal after a private company linked to Mr Vadra was not chosen as a broker.
Addressing a news conference in New Delhi, he named a private firm and claimed its owner had been working with Mr Vadra. The allegations have been denied by Mr Vadra.
He also hinted at Pakistan's role in the conspiracy.
Referring to Mr Hollande's statement that the Indian government had proposed industrialist Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as a partner for Dassault Aviation for the Rafale deal, he said, "How Rahul Gandhi and he are linked as a part of nexus, and are trying to sabotage the deal needs to be understood."
There is a conspiracy to get the deal scrapped, defame the country and lower the morale of Indian Air Force, Mr Shekhawat alleged.
For three days now, the BJP has faced ferocious attacks from the opposition led by the Congress over the Rafale deal after Mr Hollande's statement to a French website alleging favouritism to Mr Ambani's firm. Both the Indian and French governments have denied the allegations.
With inputs from PTI)