THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 16 NOVEMBER, 2017
Rahul Gandhi Crosses Swords with Anil Ambani Over Rafale Deal, Tweets On Self "Reliance"
Rahul Gandhi vs Anil Ambani
NEW DELHI: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has done what many even in his party and government earlier would have thought was the unthinkable. Joined issue with Ambani brother Anil. In a series of tweets this morning Rahul Gandhi followed the Congress allegation that Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Limited had been handpicked to partner French Rafale aircraft manufacturer Dassault in an act of “crony capitalism.”
Anil Ambani’s threat to sue has clearly not even been regarded by Rahul Gandhi whose tweets are being seen as a “bring it on” message for the younger Ambani brother.
Rahul Gandhi did not leave Prime Minister Narendra Modi out, accusing him of running a "suit-boot ki sarkar" and asking him “what about the loot.” The Congress leader told reporters later they should also pose the questions they were asking him to PM Modi. Ask him about the Rafale deal, he said, and how he changed it “for the benefit of one businessman.”
The Citizen had extensively covered the new Rafale deal under the Modi government. Some of the reports can be read here and here.
The Congress government had not closed the deal in 2012 with negotiations remaining inconclusive. It claims that the Modi government that whittled down the 126 light combat aircraft to 36, is paying three times the price that had been negotiated for each Rafael aircraft. PM Modi had made the grand announcement during a visit to France, projecting it as a move to end the deadlock over the aircraft between the two sides. This seemed to have caught his own Defence Minister by surprise, and no details were available as to the basis on which the new agreement was announced by the PM then, the price for the aircraft (old, new, in between) and whether this would be the new number as against the original tender of 126.
Reliance Defence as reported earlier by The Citizen, was given land for Anil Ambani’s new foray into the defence sector, and subsequently entered into a joint venture with Daasult to manufacture aircraft components. The Congress has alleged that that the government has promoted "the interests of one industrial group, i.e Reliance Defence Limited, which has led to the company tying up and entering into a joint venture with Dassault Aviation worth Rs.30,000 crores?"
(The Citizen reports can be read here and here)
Reliance Defence has warned of legal action against the Congress if it does not retract the allegations. "Government policy issued on 24 June 2016 allows for 49% FDI in the Defence Sector under the automatic route, without any prior approval. No approvals from the Union Cabinet or CCS were required for the formation of the aforesaid Joint Venture company under the automatic route," the company said in a statement that Rahul Gandhi, as his tweets show, has decided to ignore.
The BJP has insisted this is a Congress “stunt” with, its spokesperson maintaining "none of these stunts will work and the Congress must be ready to answer who took bribes in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal as the money trail is going to become known after the extradition of Carlos Gerosa."