Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of acting as a middleman of Anil Ambani in the Rafale jet deal, as he cited an e-mail to claim the businessman was aware of the MoU before India and France signed it.
"Narendra Modi ji is acting as the middleman of Anil Ambani. This email is clear. An Airbus executive wrote that Mr.Anil Ambani met the French Defence Minister and told him 10 days before the Rafale deal was signed that he was going to get it," Gandhi said while addressing a press conference in Delhi on Tuesday.
Gandhi also alleged that Ambani's knowledge of a defence deal under preparation, which even the then defence minister had said he was not aware of, is in violation of the Official Secrets Act which can put the PM in jail.
"Now PM needs to answer how did Anil Ambani knew 10 days in advance of the Rafale deal. Defence Minister, HAL, Foreign Secy don't know but Anil Ambani knew.If this is true then PM is in violation of official secrets act, criminal action must be initiated on this basis," he said.
Calling the CAG report 'worthless', Gandhi further said, "CAG report is a worthless report. I would term it as a ‘Chowkidar Auditor General Report’. It is Narendra Modi’s report, written for the Chowkidar, on behalf of the Chowkidar, for the Chowkidar by the Chowkidar".
Ambani had met the French defence minister days before the signing of the deal during Modi's visit to France in 2015, Gandhi said, quoting from an e-mail written by an Airbus executive to a French official.
The government and Ambani have repeatedly denied all allegations related to the Rafale deal.
According to Gandhi, it was earlier an issue of corruption, of procedural inconsistencies but was now a matter related to the Official Secrets Act which he said was "much more serious'.
BJP, however, rejected the charge, saying the email purportedly by an Airbus executive referred to a helicopter deal and not Rafale.
Rebutting Gandhi's allegations, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said his party had serious differences with former prime ministers, who came from the Gandhi family, over several "murky" defence deals signed during their term but had never accused them of treason.
"He (Rahul Gandhi) has thrown muck at his own face by abusing our honest prime minister... We will expose his lies before the public," he said.
Earlier on Monday, reports revealed that the central government had waived critical provisions for anti-corruption penalties as well as overruled the financial adviser's recommendations for making payments through an escrow account just days before the Rafale deal was signed.
The revelation came days after another report by The Hindu stated that ministry of defence officials had objected to “parallel negotiations” conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office with France when the two countries were negotiating on the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale fighter jet deal.
(With inputs from agencies)