NEW DELHI: A war of words erupted between the Congress and BJP on Monday after a report in French media claimed that Rafale manufacturer Dassault paid 1.1 million euros to a “middleman” for the aircraft deal.
While the Congress has demanded a thorough probe into the deal, the BJP rubbished the allegations and called them “completely baseless”.
According to a report on a French portal, an investigation conducted by the ‘French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA)’ has revealed that after signing of the deal in 2016, Rafale’s manufacturer Dassault allegedly paid €1.1 million to a middleman – Defsys Solutions – which is an Indian company.
Targeting the Narendra Modi government, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that report has proved that Rahul Gandhi‘s oft-repeated allegations of corruption in the deal were correct.
“Does it now not require a full and independent investigation into India’s biggest defence deal to find out as to how much bribery and commission in reality, if any, was paid and to whom in the Indian government,” he asked at a press conference.
“Will Prime Minister Narendra Modi answer to the nation now?” he asked.
Surjewala said this amount was shown as expenditure by Dassault as “gifts to clients”.
Meanwhile, the BJP denied the allegations and hit back at the Congress for raising the issue again.
Responding to a question on the Congress attack, senior BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the opposition party made it a big issue in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls but lost badly.
He said the allegations of corruption were “completely baseless” and suggested that a report in the French media about the alleged financial irregularity in the deal may be due to “corporate rivalry” in that country.
Noting that the Congress had raised the issue earlier too, he said the Supreme Court rejected the demand for a probe and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) also found nothing wrong in the fighter aircraft deal.
(With inputs from PTI)