Even as the French government and Dassault Aviation contradicted former president Francois Hollande's bombshell that the Indian government proposed Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as the India partner for the multi-million dollar Rafale deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi kept up his attack on PM Narendra Modi and said he had "betrayed India's soul". Calling the Rafale deal a Rs 1.3 lakh crore surgical strike on the Indian defence forces, Mr Gandhi said PM Modi "dishonoured the blood of our martyred soldiers."
"The PM and Anil Ambani jointly carried out a One Hundred & Thirty Thousand Crore, SURGICAL STRIKE on the Indian Defence forces. Modi Ji you dishonoured the blood of our martyred soldiers. Shame on you. You betrayed India's soul," Mr Gandhi tweeted this morning.
The French government had issued a statement last night, saying they were not involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners and that French companies had the freedom to choose Indian partner companies in the Rafale deal. The statement had come hours after Mr Hollande's claim to a French journal escalated the political controversy in India on the fighter jet deal.
However, Rahul Gandhi's Congress says the French statement "conceals more than it reveals". Party spokesperson Manish Tiwari tweeted that speculation was rife that the French Parliament may conduct a hearing over the Rafale deal.
"The French statement conceals more than it reveals. The French government knows verbal interactions between former President Francois Hollande and Indian interlocutors are minuted and would emerge," he tweeted.
The BJP was quick to counter the attack. Union Minister Ananth Kumar tweeted, "Nailing the lie on its head -- misinformation about Rafale deal, Dassault being called out by the French government."
The Modi government has repeatedly said it was Dassault that chose its India partner for offsets and that the government had no say in the deal.
Dassault Aviation, the makers of the Rafale jets, too said on Friday night that it was their choice to partner with the Reliance Group.
The Anil Ambani-led group is manufacturing aerospace components as part of the offset component of the Rafale deal. The clause requires Rafale manufacturer Dassault to ensure that business worth around Rs. 30,000 crores is generated for the Indian defence system. Reliance Defence is not making components for the Rafales ordered by India but is building assemblies for Dassault business jets.
With inputs from agencies
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