Rafale row: BJP leader and Union minister Gajendra Shekhawat claimed that Congress chief Rahul Gandhi was levelling baseless allegations and plotting the annulment of the deal because he wants to help Robert Vadra.
The war of words over the controversial Rafale deal on Monday escalated further with the ruling BJP on Monday dragging Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s businessman brother-in-law Robert Vadra into the controversy. The BJP has alleged that the deal couldn’t be finalised during the Congress-led UPA regime because a firm linked to Vadra couldn’t be chosen as a broker to seal the deal.
Hitting out at Rahul Gandhi, senior BJP leader and Union minister Gajendra Shekhawat claimed that the Congress chief was levelling baseless allegations and plotting the annulment of the deal because he wants to help Vadra. Addressing a press conference in the national capital, Shekhawat said that Vadra wanted the Congress government to award the deal to his businessman friend Sanjay Bhandari in order to help him but it could not do so.
Shekhawat also alleged that the hue and cry by the Congress over the defence deal is part of a larger conspiracy to get the deal scrapped and lower the morale of the Indian Air Force.
“The UPA regime wanted to use the firm of Sanjay Bhandari and firm of Robert Vadra as a broker in the deal. But when it could not do so, the Congress party is now trying to annul the deal to take revenge,” Shekhawat said.
Shekhawat claimed that Bhandari and Vadra are close friends and have been seen at various defence expos and exhibitions in the past. According to Shekhawat, Dassault Aviation — the maker of Rafale fighter jets, had refused to work with Robert Vadra’s company in 2008. He alleged that the Gandhi family, under pressure from Vadra, wanted Dassault to work with his company, namely Offset India Solutions.
“They (Vadra and Bhandari) represent themselves as middlemen at many defence expos but they have not got a big breakthrough yet. The then (UPA) government wanted that the French firm should accept it (Vadra’s company) as the middleman. But since it did not materialise, the deal with Dassault was cancelled,” the BJP leader said.
“This is why the Congress now wants to kill this contract and show Dassault its place,” Shekhawat added.
Watch video: Gajendra Shekhawat press conference
The BJP’s allegations come even as it faces fire from the Congress party over allegations of corruption in the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France. The party has alleged corruption on the part of the BJP government in signing the deal and has claimed that it was signed in haste to favour Anil Ambani’s company. The party has now sought a probe into the matter by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), but the BJP has rejected the demand and accused the grand old party of compromising with national security.