New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday alleged a "direct deal" between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and industrialist Anil Ambani on the Rafale jet contract, saying Modi acted like "medieval monarch" in signing the deal after "bypassing" laid procedures.
The opposition party also dared the government to move the court against the allegations, saying it will be forced to reveal the details of the deal which it is hiding.
The government has denied the allegations while Anil Ambani's Reliance group has already slapped "Cease and Desist" notices on many Congress leaders asking them not to make false and defamatory statements.
However, the Congress has continued its relentless assault over the Rafale deal to corner the government in the run up to next general elections especially as Modi government has often cited a corruption-free administration as one its achievements after several alleged scams came to light during the Congress-led UPA rule.
Congress spokesperson Jaipal Reddy on Tuesday alleged that the Prime Minister bypassed established procedures for defence procurement just to benefit his industrialist friend, "who was the only one except Modi" to know of the deal in advance as he set up his company only a few days before.
"In my well considered view, it is a direct deal between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Anil Ambani," he told reporters.
He said his contention was based on the fact that Foreign Secretary, on April 10, 2015, two days before the deal, told categorically that Rafale deal would not be discussed, let alone finalised in the meeting of the Prime Minister of India and President of France. "The one person in the country apart from the Prime Minister who knew that this contract will be signed, was Shri Anil Ambani, who knew 12 days before the contract was signed and had got registered his company," he said.
"What is the bonanza for Anil Ambani. Why this windfall for one individual. Why this favour, this gratuitous gigantic favour to one individual. That individual's distinction ... who has spectacularly failed as an industrialist," the Congress leader said.
He accused PM Modi of acting like a "medieval monarch" and drew a parallel between him and 17th century French emperor Louis XIV, known for his authoritarian rule. "Narendra Modi entered into a contract on his own. He behaved like a ‘medieval monarch'. He was in Paris and acted in the spirit of Louis XIV...who said 'I am the State'. "Narendra Modi used to say I am the State. I do not need Cabinet, Committee on Security and its recommendation, I don't need recommendation by Air Force, I do not have to consult Defence Minister and I do not have to consult the Foreign Secretary. I will take decisions of my own and what is more – the Louis is also ignoring the opposition voice," he said.
He alleged that PM Modi is making a "serious mistake" if he thinks the deal will vanish from the memory of people because he does not respond.
Reddy also accused PM Modi of acting in a "dictatorial manner".
"It is a wonderful government. Heavy weights have been eliminated – heavy weights such as Murli Manohar Joshi have been eliminated, Light weights such as Nirmala Sitharaman have been elevated. And middle weights are being marginalized," he said. He also alleged that the future of PSU HAL will be "crucified and its growth will be dented" after taking away this deal from it.
"Transfer technology has a huge number of spin-off facts. Now HAL has been sacrificed at the altar of this deal," he said. Reddy rejected the contention that the French player was selected as it was a question of ties between the two nations, saying "international relations between countries do not come in the way while signing financial contracts".
"It was a global tender. We don't mix foreign relations with financial decisions. That only monarchs can, a prime minister cannot. Prime Minister is accountable to Parliament. He can be tomorrow summoned before the Public Accounts Committee. Monarchs are not answerable. These decisions on financial transactions and foreign relations are two different things," he said.
Reddy asked why the government did not take into consideration rival company Euro Fighter's letter of July 14, 2015 to the Government saying it would supply the aircraft for less than 20 pc of the price of Dassault.
"We are not questioning the quality. This is about the price, this is about transparency, and this is about the disregard to all procedures, this is a protest against the imperialistic manner in which the prime minister is functioning," he said.
On the legal notice by Anil Ambani's Reliance group, Reddy said, "Our leaders are not afraid of legal notices. In a way it is good that Anil Ambani has send notices. Right now, the government is refusing to reveal details about the Rafale deal.
"However, if the matter goes to court, they cannot hide behind the secrecy clause and will have to reveal the price of the Rafale jets."...