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  India   All India  24 Sep 2018  Rafale deal: Jaitley hints at Hollande, RaGa jugalbandi

Rafale deal: Jaitley hints at Hollande, RaGa jugalbandi

Published : Sep 24, 2018, 1:46 am IST
Updated : Sep 24, 2018, 1:46 am IST

Mr Jaitley said that there is no question of scrapping the Rafale jet fighter deal as it is meant to meet the needs of the country’s defence forces.

Union finance minister Arun Jaitley (Photo: Twitter | @ANI)
 Union finance minister Arun Jaitley (Photo: Twitter | @ANI)

New Delhi: With the Congress training its guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale jet deal and demanding a clarification from him, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday hinted at a link between Rahul Gandhi’s offensive against the government and former French President Francois Hollande’s rem-arks on the deal which “he himself contradicted later”.

Ruling out any possibility of scrapping the Rafale deal, Mr Jaitley said that there appears to be some jugalbandi (connection) between the statements of Mr Hollande and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

“I am surprised… On August 30, he (Gandhi) tweeted that bombs are going to explode in France (over Rafale deal). How he came to know about that?... Though I do not have any proof of this jugalbandi, but this creates suspicion in mind… There is definitely something... A statement comes (from Hollande), then it is contradicted. But he (Gandhi) predicted this to happen 20 days in advance,” said the finance minister.

In a Facebook post titled “A Questionable Statem-ent Which Circumstances & Facts Demolish”, Mr Jaitley wrote, “The former French President’s first statement rhymes with Rahul Gandhi’s prediction.”

In an interview to a news agency, the finance minister said,  “I think he (Rahul Gandhi) is on some kind of revenge mode... I won’t be surprised if the whole thing is orchestrated.”

On August 30, Mr Gandhi, before leaving for Kailash Mansarovar, had tweeted, “It’s (Rafale) also going to drop some big bunker buster bombs in the next couple of weeks.”

Mr Jaitley said that there is no question of scrapping the Rafale jet fighter deal as it is meant to meet the needs of the country’s defence forces.

“Koi prashna nahi uthta. Ye fauj ki avashaktya hai. Ye desh mei ana chahiye, aur ye ayega. (No question of scrapping the deal. These (jet fighters) are needed by the defence forces. They should come and they will come),” he said in TV interview. Mr Jaitley said that a controversy is sought to be created on the basis of a statement made by Mr Hollande that the Reliance Defence “partnership” with Dassault Aviation was due to the suggestion of the Indian government.

“He (Hollande) has, in a subsequent statement, said that he is ‘not aware’ if the government ever lobbied for Reliance Defence and that ‘the partners chose themselves’. Truth cannot have two versions,” the minister said.

Referring to Mr Hollande’s remarks, Mr Jaitley said, “The French government  and Dassault Aviation have categorically denied the correctness of the former President’s first statement. As per the second statement of Mr Hollande, Dassault and Reliance selected themselves as partners.” The finance minister also accused Congress leaders of using vulgar language and said public discourse is not a “laughter challenge”. Taking on the finance minister, Mr Gandhi tweeted that it is time Mr Jaitley and the PM “stop lying” and called for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe for the “uncorrupted truth” to come out.

“Mr Jetlie’s speciality is his ability to spin ‘2 truths’, or lies, with fake self righteousness and indignation to defend the indefensible. It’s high time he, the RM and our PM stop lying and call a JPC to establish the full, uncorrupted truth about the Rafale Scam (sic),” Mr Gandhi tweeted. On Thursday, Mr Hollande, who was French President when the `58,000 crore deal with India was announced, was quoted as saying by French news website Mediapart that France was given “no choice” on selection of the Indian partner for Dassault Aviation and the Indian government proposed the name of Reliance to partner with the French aerospace giant. “We didn’t have a say in that. It was the Indian government that proposed this service group (Reliance), and Dassault who negotiated with Ambani. We didn’t have a choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us,” Mr Hollande was quoted by on the offset contract. In response to Mr Holland’s statement, the French government said that it was in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners for the Rafale deal, asserting that French firms have the full freedom to select Indian companies for the contract. The Congress continued its tirade against the Modi government over the issue  and accused the PM of violating the oath of confidentiality by leaking information to Reliance Defence chief Anil Ambani about the purchase of 36 fighter jets from France.

“My direct charge is that the Prime Minister violated the oath of confidentiality. Only he could have told Anil Ambani that HAL will be out and he will strike a deal to buy 36 jets and “you (Ambani) go and talk to Dassault Aviation (the makers of Rafale jet),” said senior Congress leader Anand Sharma. Meanwhile, senior Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan said that the Rafale deal was the “largest defence scam in India” and urged the Centre to initiate a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the matter. Mr Bhushan questioned how Reliance Defence, the Indian offset partner of French firm Dassault Aviation, could be involved in the project as “most of his companies are in debt”. Meanwhile, the French government said on Sunday it feared damage to its relations with India after Mr  Hollande stirred controversy about the Rafale deal. Mr Hollande, who left office in May last year, had said that French jet manufacturer Dassault Aviation had been given no choice about its local partner in a 2016 deal with India, AFP media reported.

“I find these remarks made overseas, which concern important international relations between France and India, do not help anyone and above all do not help France,” junior foreign minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said on Sunday about Mr Hollande.

Tags: prime minister narendra modi, arun jaitley, rafale deal