Congress leader Navjot Sidhu today launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the centre's defence deals, including the Rafale deal, alleging he behaved like a "business development manager for (Anil) Ambani and (Gautam) Adani" at the cost of several state-run firms. Mr Sidhu said that while government firms like SBI and MTNL were incurring losses, the Prime Minister's enthusiasm lay only in endorsing private multinationals like PayTM and Reliance Jio.
"Modi is the business development manager of Ambani and Adani, as he has favoured them at the cost of state-run firms," Mr Sidhu was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.
Mr Sidhu claimed the Prime Minister made "55 foreign trips" with the "two prominent industrialists" and fetched them "18 big projects", reported PTI.
"The government defence companies, which had experience of over 50 years, were not given any contracts," news agency IANS quoted Mr Sidhu as saying at a press conference in New Delhi. "I want to ask the Prime Minister why he thought about welfare of only two companies while the government companies were left to die," he said.
"Are government companies not good enough?" said Mr Sidhu, deriding the BJP's 'Main Bhi Chowkidar' campaign. "He says he's the chowkidar of the nation. He never took chairmen of government companies along with him on his foreign tours."
Mr Sidhu, who had switched over from the BJP to the Congress years ago, said PM Modi was "useless (nikamma)" and an "anti-national who sold the interest of the nation."
"While BSNL is grappling with a loss of Rs 8,000 crore, the Prime Minister is endorsing Reliance Jio, which has posted a huge profit. While SBI is reeling under NPAs, Modi can be seen in advertisements of Paytm," Mr Sidhu was quoted as saying by PTI.
Speaking on the Rafale deal, Mr Sidhu, quoted by ANI, said industrialist Anil Ambani was granted a "one-time settlement of Rs 56,000 crore by French authorities" when he had "a tax debt of Rs 11,000 crore".
France had waived taxes worth 143.7 million euros to a French-registered telecom subsidiary of Anil Ambani's Reliance Communications in 2015, months after India's announcement of buying 36 Rafale jets, French newspaper Le Monde had earlier reported.
Alleging a decreasing role for the Defence Research and Development Organisation or DRDO, Mr Sidhu cited an agreement with Israel for developing an unmanned aircraft system and said the Adani Group headed by Gautam Adani had signed a similar agreement.
"The Ambani group signed to develop air-to-air missiles for IAF for Rs 65,000 crore. Why didn't the DRDO get the contract instead," he was quoted by ANI as saying.
Amid Congress's increasing tenor against Anil Ambani, his brother Mukesh Ambani was seen in a video endorsing Congress's Milind Deora, who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from South Mumbai. The video, shared by Mr Deora on Twitter, had the elder Ambani brother saying "Milind is the man for South Mumbai."
The Ambani brothers had been embroiled in a long-standing fight for over a decade and had split their business empire after their father Dhirubhai Ambani died without a will in 2002. Mukesh Ambani had bailed out Anil Ambani, rescuing him from possible jail time, by paying dues worth Rs 458.77-crore to Ericsson.
The thaw in their relations was acknowledged by the younger Ambani brother in a public letter given to Mukesh Ambani.
(With Inputs From PTI, IANS And ANI)
Disclaimer: NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group for its coverage of the Rafale deal