Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “acting as Anil Ambani’s middleman”, Rahul Gandhi said today in his latest allegation linked to the Rafale controversy, citing an email that he said revealed the industrialist had visited Paris and met with the French Defence Minister, 10 days before the PM went there and announced the 36-jet deal with France. The Congress president alleged that Anil Ambani was aware of the deal when even “the Defence Minister and Foreign Secretary didn’t know”.
“PM has compromised national security, he has done what spies do,” Rahul Gandhi said in a press conference, citing an email of an official of Airbus; several employees of the plane-maker were reportedly in the meeting between Anil Ambani and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. The email by Airbus official Nicolas Chamussy, marked to three recipients with the subject line “Ambani”, described the meeting as “confidential and planned as you can imagine with very short notice”.
Holding up a copy of the email, Rahul Gandhi said: “Anil Ambani, who met the French Defence Minister, mentioned an MoU he is looking forward to sign after the Indian prime minister’s visit to France. Mr Ambani says he is first looking to make commercial helicopters. This is a breach of the Official Secrets Act. The PM is the only other person who knows about this. In fact, Anil Ambani opened his company after this meeting. The PM is acting as Anil Ambani’s middleman, it is in black-and-white for anyone who reads the email.”
Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence has said the visit had nothing to do with Rafale; they say the industrialist visited France to discuss a deal for more than 100 Naval Utility Helicopters for which the government had sought information from international helicopter manufacturers in 2015.
The Airbus email said Anil Ambani “told them he intends to work with Airbus Helicopters on commercial helos and then on defence.” He is also said to have “mentioned a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in preparation and the intention to sign during the PM visit”.
According to Reliance Defence, Airbus had told Anil Ambani that there were “other potential partners” and the deal fell through. Airbus decided to continue working with the Mahindra Group.
Rahul Gandhi dismissed the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General’s) report on the Rafale deal, which, according to sources, doesn’t mention pricing at all as the government called it classified information.
“CAG is Chowkidaar Auditor General report, written by Chowkidaar, audited by Chowkidaar,” he said, taking the name that he uses to target PM Modi.