With fresh revelations corroborating its allegations over the inclusion of a private firm as an Indian offset partner in the Rafale deal, the Congress on Wednesday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for benefiting his crony asking him to break his silence on the multi-crore "scam".
Citing a report by French blog Portail Aviation, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said it reinforced the fact that Modi "facilitated a sweetheart deal with Dassault Aviation to enormously and illegitimately benefit a crony friend".
The French blog has put up images of documents published by two unions of Rafale-maker Dassault -- the CFDT and CGT -- and quoted Dassault Aviation Chief Operating Officer Loik Segalenn as telling the two unions that it was "imperative" for the company to sign an agreement with Reliance Defence to get the contract for the jets.
Surjewala said the report by the French blog also corroborates former French President Francois Hollande's assertions that the "Indian government proposed Reliance Defence as the partner for Dassault for Rafale deal and France did not have a choice".
"A complete presentation of the Make in India with the creation of the enterprise "Dassault Reliance Aerospace" in Nagpur was made.
"According to Segalenn, it was imperative and mandatory for Dassault-Aviation to accept this counterpart in order to obtain the export contract of Rafale India.
"This is the inevitable consequence of the Rafale India contract which required making Make in India to be signed.
"A joint venture was therefore created with the Indian company to achieve this goal," said Surjewala reading out excerpts of the French report translated into English.
"This is the third confirmation after Hollande had clearly told a French outlet about Modi securing the deal for Reliance Defence," he said.
Referring to claims by several Bharatiya Janata Party ministers that Dassault Aviation "freely chose" its offset partner, the Congress demanded to know why Segalenn said "it was imperative and mandatory for Dassault-Aviation to accept this counterpart in order to obtain the Rafale India export contract".
Observing that neither the French nor the Indian government denied the "unequivocal assertions" made by Hollande, the Congress demanded that Modi speak up on the issue.
"Undisputed evidence now corroborates, brazen crony capitalism and quid pro quo by Modi government in the multi-crore Rafale scam. Time for Modi to break his silence," added Surjewala.
Alleging massive irregularities in the deal that has caused "huge loss to the public exchequer", the Congress has been relentless in attacking Modi and his government over the deal announced by the Prime Minister in 2015.
The party has twice petitioned the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) for a special and forensic audit and also moved the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) seeking a probe and seizure of relevant documents pertaining to the deal. It has also been persistent in demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe.
Besides questioning the "inflated" price of the jets, the Congress has also been targeting the Centre over the propriety of a newly-founded private company getting the Rs 300 billion Rafale offset contract at the cost of the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).