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“Prime Minister acting as Anil Ambani’s middleman,” says Rahul Gandhi

Rahul alleged that Anil Ambani was aware of deal when even "the Defence Minister and the Foreign Secretary didn't know"

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “acting as Anil Ambani’s middleman”, Rahul Gandhi said on Tuesday 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 the 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, dated March 28, 2015 and 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. 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 said in a statement that “facts are being deliberately twisted and reality being ignored” and that the visit had nothing to do with Rafale. A spokesperson
says 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 purported email being referred by the Congress party is regarding the discussion between Airbus and Reliance Defence regarding Civil and Defence Helicopter Programs under ‘Make in
India’. Discussion on proposed MoU was clearly with reference to cooperation between Airbus Helicopter and Reliance. It had NO connection whatsoever with Government to Government
Agreement between France and India for 36 Rafale aircraft,” said a Reliance Defence spokesperson.
Airbus refused to confirm the Reliance Defence statement, telling NDTV: “This has no link with Airbus; we do not comment.”
The Airbus email cited by the Congress 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. It said Airbus decided to continue working with the
Mahindra Group.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, in a stinging rebuttal, said: “How Rahul Gandhi got the email of a private company is in a cloud. Regardless of the shameful manner in which Rahul Gandhi
is acting as a lobbyist for companies, the country will not bend. The country needs fighter planes and good defence equipment.”
The minister also hit out at the Congress president for calling PM Modi a traitor. “During your father and grandmother’s time there was corruption. But we never called them traitors. Today
you have put muck on your face by making this false allegation.”
The Congress alleges that the government went for an overpriced deal for Rafale jets to benefit Anil Ambani, whose Reliance Defence is one of the offset partners for Rafale maker
Dassault. Both Dassault and Anil Ambani have denied the Congress allegations.
The Supreme Court in December refused to investigate the deal worth an alleged 8.7 billion dollars and rejected petitions that alleged corruption, including the choice of Anil Ambani’s firm
as domestic partner. But the opposition says the government concealed vital information.

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