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Rafale row:Rahul asks PM what "deal" with Anil Ambani;Jaitley accuses Cong chief of falsehood


Press Trust of India New Delhi
The political dogfight over the controversial Rafale fighter jet contract intensified today with Rahul Gandhi asking what is the "deal" between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and industrialist Anil Ambani while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accused the Congress chief of resorting to falsehood.
As a combative Gandhi launched a pincer attack on the prime minister over the twin issues of demonetisation and the multi-billion dollar Rafale deal at a news conference, hundreds of Youth Congress workers took to the streets in Delhi to protest against the jet contract, dubbing it as the "biggest scam".
Gandhi also accused Modi of "lying" over the Rafale deal, as he reiterated his demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee(JPC) probe into the contract with France.
Gandhi asked why the fighter jet was purchased at Rs 1,600 crore instead of the Rs 520 crore cost finalised during the Congress-led UPA government.
"Why did you buy an aircraft of Rs 520 crore at the cost of Rs 1,600 crore? Who were you (Modi) trying to benefit?" the Congress president asked.
"Bring a joint parliamentary committee probe. The entire country wants to know what is the deal between Narendra Modi and Anil Ambani," he said.
Gandhi claimed Rafale is a "clear-cut case" as on the one one hand it is the company owned by Anil Ambani who has loans worth Rs 45,000 crore pending on him and has never made an aircraft and set up his company only a few days before the contract was signed.
On the other hand, he said the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL) is an old company having the experience of manufacturing aircraft for the last 70 years and has no loans pending against it.
Gandhi cited the 2015 joint statement made by Modi and French President Franois Hollande, saying it is clearly written there that the aircraft and associated systems and weapons would be delivered on the same configuration as had been tested and approved by the Indian Air Force(IAF).
"The point is it is written in the prime minister's joint statement that the aircraft will have the same configuration. The prime minister is now saying something else. The statement he gave with Mr Hollande, was it the same Narendra Modi.
"It is clearly written that the configuration is going to be of the same configuration. So the man is lying," he said while attacking the prime minister.
Gandhi also targeted Jaitley, saying he was blogging but not saying anything on a probe by a JPC.
Hitting back at Gandhi, Jaitley said the fully weaponised fighter jets which his government is buying are 20 per cent cheaper than the ones offered under the previous UPA regime.
Minutes after Gandhi again targeted Modi for allegedly helping only "15-20 crony capitalist friends", Jaitley took to the twitter to say any diversionary tactic will not wipe out the falsehood of the opposition leader.
"@RahulGandhi has not read my question - The fully weaponised Rafale aircraft's 2016 price is 20% cheaper than the 2007 offer. This is what the 2015 statement of the PM and the French President refers to as 'on terms better than the 2007 offers'," he wrote.
Jaitley had yesterday posed 15 questions to Gandhi, charging him with "peddling untruth" and carrying out a "false campaign" on the Rafale deal in a bid to counter the opposition's charge of it being the "biggest scam" in the defence sector.
As Gandhi maintained that the Modi government was buying fighter jets at more than three times the Rs 520 crore price, Jaitley said, "Any issue diversion by @RahulGandhi on my Rafale questions, will not wipe out his falsehood on Rafale."

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said Gandhi cannot launch his career by alleging a scam in the Rafale deal, adding the Congress chief was sounding like a "broken record" by repeating the same set of allegations over this issue as well as demonetisation.
At his news conference, Gandhi said Jaitley has asked some questions and he has the right to do so, but he has been given an option to the prime minister through the finance minister that he is free to ask questions but before the joint parliamentary committee.
"Everything will be clear as to what happened in Rafale."

"I have no problems and the Congress party has no objections, we all will agree. The 24-hour deadline is coming to an end(today) and Arun Jaitley is writing long blogs but is not responding to my question," Gandhi said, as he reminded Jaitley about the deadline twice during the day.
Congress spokesman Jaipal Reddy alleged that the prime objective of the Rafale contract was to help Ambani who floated a new company just before 12 days of striking the deal.
Facing allegations of getting undue benefits from the Rafale deal, the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group has sent legal notices to several Congress leaders asking them to "cease and desist" from levelling such charges.
On the defamation suits, Gandhi said, "Anil Ambani can file as many defamation suits he wants but he cannot change the truth, which is, note ban was implemented to help 15-20 crony capitalists.
The Anil Ambani group has denied receiving any contract from the Defence ministry and said "unfounded and incorrect" allegations were being made to "mislead people and cloud the issue.
Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari asked the Modi government to share details of the Rafale deal with the country if there was nothing "shady" about it.

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First Published: Aug 30 2018 | 9:41 PM IST

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