In a major embarrassment for Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Government of France on Friday denied claims made by him about the Rafale deal. Taking note of Gandhi’s statement, the France government said that the secrecy pact applies to the 2016 Rafale deal.
“We have noted the statement of Mr Rahul Gandhi before the Indian Parliament… France and India concluded in 2008 a Security agreement, which legally binds the two States to protect the classified information provided by the partner that could impact security and operational capabilities of the defence equipment of India or France,” the statement said.
“These provisions naturally apply to the IGA concluded on 23 September 2016 on the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircraft and their weapons,” it added.
Earlier in the day, Gandhi had made shocking claims that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman lied under pressure from PM Narendra Modi when it came to sharing the details of Rafale deal. “First, our defence minister said that she will share the details of Rafael Deal, later she said that Indian government is under a secrecy pact with the government of France and cannot share the details,” Gandhi said.
“However, when I personally met President of France, he told me there is no such pact… Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman lied under the pressure of PM Narendra Modi,” Gandhi said.
After making the comments on Sitharaman, Gandhi said that PM Modi is smiling under a ‘touch of nervousness’ in the House. “I can see him smiling… but there’s a touch of nervousness in the gentleman and he is looking away from me,” Gandhi said. “I can understand that… he cannot look into my eyes, I can see that because the Prime Minister has not been truthful,” Gandhi added.
The Congress has been alleging corruption in the deal since 2016. The party Congress has been demanding details, including the cost of equipment and weapons, but the government has refused to share them citing a secrecy pact with France, which was confirmed by the latter today. Gandhi also alleged that Modi government brought weapons at a higher cost in comparison to the rate finalised by former UPA government.