Rahul accuses Modi of acting as Anil Ambani's middleman in Rafale jet deal, cites email

Reliance Defence refutes charge, BJP slams Cong chief
Report by: 
Agencies
NEW DELHI
12 Feb 2019

Congress president Rahul Gandhi today accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "treason" and violating the Official Secrets Act by acting as Anil Ambani's "middleman" in the Rafale jet contract, citing an email to claim the businessman was aware of the deal days before India and France signed it.
BJP, however, rejected the charge, saying the email purportedly by an Airbus executive referred to a helicopter deal and not Rafale. Rahul released to the media an email dated March 28, 2015 purportedly written by Airbus executive Nicolas Chamussy to three recipients with the subject line "Ambani". He claimed the email showed Ambani visited then French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian's office and mentioned an "MoU in preparation and the intention to sign during the PM visit (to France)". The Congress president asked how Ambani knew about the deal and mentioned it in the French defence minister's office when even then foreign secretary S Jaishankar and then defence minister Manohar Parrikar had no information on it.
"This is a breach of the Official Secrets Act. The prime minister who is the only other person who knows about the deal has informed Anil Ambani about the deal. The Prime Minister is acting as Anil Ambani's middleman," Gandhi alleged and called for a criminal investigation into the matter. The government and Ambani have repeatedly denied all allegations related to the Rafale deal. According to the Congress president, it was earlier an issue of corruption, of procedural inconsistencies but was now a matter related to the Official Secrets Act which he said was "much more serious'.
"This is now treason, nothing less. Mr Narendra Modi is doing what spies do. He is informing somebody of defence matters, he is under oath to protect these secrets. He has now given this secret to Mr Anil Ambani who knows that the biggest defence deal in the world is going to him 10 days before the deal...this itself is criminal, this itself will put the prime minister in jail," the Congress chief said. Rebutting Rahul's allegations, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said his party had serious differences with former prime ministers, who came from the Gandhi family, over several "murky" defence deals signed during their term but had 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.
In reaction, Reliance Defence today said the "proposed MoU" mentioned in a purported email cited by the Congress president in his fresh allegations on the Rafale deal was a reference to its cooperation with Airbus Helicopter and had "no connection" with the fighter jet contract. "Purported email being referred by the Congress Party is regarding the discussion between Airbus and Reliance Defence regarding Civil & Defence Helicopter Programs under 'Make in India'," a Reliance Defence spokesperson said in a statement. Rahul released to the media an email dated March 28, 2015 purportedly written by Airbus executive Nicolas Chamussy to three recipients with the subject line "Ambani".
The BJP today dismissed Rahul's allegations against the Prime Minister on the Rafale jet deal as height of shamelessness and irresponsibility, and asserted that the e-mail he cited to criticise the prime minister referred to some chopper deal and not the purchase of the fighter aircraft. Senior party leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also put Airbus, whose internal e-mail was cited by the Congress president, in a dock, saying the European aircraft manufacturer is under a needle of suspicion in deals finalised during the previous Congress-led government. He asked Rahul to answer how he got hold of the company's internal communication and accused him of acting as a "lobbyist" of foreign firms.