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Cong, BJP war of words over Rafale turns uglier

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The war of words between the and the BJP over the issue turned uglier Tuesday as accused of "treason" and acting as Anil Ambani's middleman, prompting the ruling party to claim that he worked as a

The Gandhi family has a history of "looting" the country, BJP said in a counter-attack, adding that it was height of "shamelessness and irresponsibility" that the "abused" the "honest" Modi.

Firing a fresh salvo at Modi, Gandhi released to the media an email dated March 28, 2015 purportedly written by to three recipients with the subject line "Ambani".

Quoting from the email, Gandhi claimed that Ambani was aware in advance of the deal before and announced it in 2015 during Modi's visit to the country and said that it was in violation of the

Modi's action "puts him in jail", he said.

Dubbing Gandhi a "lying machine", Prasad asserted that the email referred to a chopper deal and not the purchase and also put in a dock by saying that it is under a needle of suspicion in several deals signed during the UPA era.

Reacting to Gandhi's claim, Ambani's Defence said the "proposed MoU" mentioned in the email cited by him was a reference to its cooperation with Helicopter and had "no connection" with the fighter jet contract.

In its response to Prasad's remarks against Airbus, its said, "We do not comment on any ongoing investigation. We have cooperated with the Indian authorities in the past and will continue to do so."

At his press conference, Gandhi claimed the email showed Ambani visited then French Jean-Yves Le Drian's office and mentioned an "MoU in preparation and the intention to sign during the PM visit (to France)".

The asked how Ambani knew about the deal and mentioned it in the French defence minister's office when even then S Jaishankar and then had no information on it.

"This is a breach of the .. This is treason and this is what spies do. The is the only other person who knows about the deal and has informed about the deal. is acting as Anil Ambani's middleman," Gandhi alleged and called for a criminal investigation into the matter.

Hitting back, Prasad said, "Let explain where did he get internal email of Airbus. Who is supplying him? ...There cannot be a bigger thing than this that he is working as a "

The firm is also linked to a corporate lobbyist, who was recently deported from the UAE and is being probed on money laundering charges, he alleged.

He also took strong exception to the Congress charging Modi with "treason", saying his party had serious differences with former prime ministers coming from the Gandhi family over several "murky" defence deals signed during their term but it never accused them of treason.

"He (Rahul Gandhi) has thrown muck at his own face by abusing our honest prime minister... We will expose his lies before the public," he said.

Gandhi has repeatedly levelled allegations against the government over baseless claims, he said. "This is treason. He (Modi) is doing what spies do," Gandhi said.

Ambani had met the French days before the signing of the deal during Modi's visit to in 2015, Gandhi said, quoting from the email written by an Airbus to a French

The Congress also rejected the report on the Rafale deal, and dubbed it "Chowkidar Auditor General" report.

Prasad said the Congress has a tendency to target institutions when their stand does not suit them.

In its comments, alleged that Ambani negotiated the Rafale contract on behalf of Modi.

NCP called the controversial fighter jet deal as "pre-planned loot of the country's money".

Defence said the discussion on proposed the MoU was clearly with reference to cooperation between and

"It had no connection whatsoever with Government to Government Agreement between and for 36 Rafale aircraft," he said, adding that it is in public domain that has partnered with for the Military Helicopter Programme.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, February 12 2019. 18:40 IST