Upping the ante on the alleged corruption in the purchase of the Rafale aircraft from France, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi resign if he cannot respond to the allegations being raised about his role in the procurement of the fighter jets.
French publication Mediapart, which claimed to have assessed an internal document of aircraft maker Dassault Aviation, quoted a senior executive of the company as saying that it agreed to work with Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as an “imperative and obligatory” condition so as to secure the multi-billion dollar fighter jet contract. Citing the French media report, Gandhi said at a press conference at the AICC headquarters that it is now clear that the “prime minister of India is a corrupt person".
He said the latest revelations on the Rafale deal proved that Modi “put Rs 30,000 crore into the pocket of Anil Ambani” by allegedly helping him get the offset contract as part of the purchase of the fighter aircraft.
The Congress president pointed out that the Dassault official had reportedly said that the offset contract was given to Reliance as a “compensation” in order to obtain the Rafale India export contract.
“The prime minister had said that he wanted to be a chowkidar of the country. What we have found out is that he is not the prime minister of the country. He is only Ambani's prime minister,” Gandhi said.
He said Modi came to power promising to end corruption. "But I want to tell the youth that the prime minister of India is corrupt,” Gandhi said.
To a question if Modi should resign in the wake of the allegations against him, Gandhi said, “The main issue in the country today is corruption. Corruption has happened in front of his (Modi's) eyes. He should resign if he cannot respond to the allegations. The prime minister, who had promised to fight corruption, has himself done corruption.”
Gandhi repeated his party's demand for a probe into the Rafale deal by a joint parliamentary committee. “We demanded a JPC probe so that the truth would come out. And they literally ran away,” he said.
Pointing to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visiting France, Gandhi claimed that it is now clear that the government has begun a huge cover-up exercise with regard to the defence procurement deal.