RELIANCE Defence Refutes Rahul Gandhi’s Accusation
RELIANCE Defence said on Tuesday said the “proposed MoU” mentioned in a purported email cited by Congress president Rahul Gandhi at a presser in New Delhi had “no connection” with Rafale fighter jet contract. Gandhi on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “treason” and violating the Official Secrets Act by acting as Anil Ambani’s “middleman” in the Rafale jet contract, citing an email to claim the businessman was aware of the deal days before India and France signed it.“Purported email being referred by the Congress Party is regarding the discussion between Airbus and Reliance Defence regarding Civil & Defence Helicopter Programs under ‘Make in India’,” said Reliance Defence in a statement. It said that discussion on proposed MoU was clearly with reference to co-operation between Airbus Helicopter and Reliance. It had no connection whatsoever to Government Agreement between France and India for 36 Rafale aircraft, it said. The statement said that it is in public domain that Airbus Helicopter has partnered with Mahindra for the Military Helicopter Program. “Also, for the record, MoU for Rafale aircraft was signed between France and India on 25 January 2016 and not in April 2015. From the above, it is evident that the facts are being deliberately twisted and reality being ignored,” said the company.Mr Gandhi released to the media an email dated March 28, 2015 purportedly written by Airbus executive Nicolas Chamussy to three recipients with the subject line “Ambani”. Notwithstanding the controversy, the Rafale fighter jet procurement process is on schedule and the first aircraft will be delivered to India in September this year, said an Indian Air Force (IAF) official on Tuesday. The delivery of the aircraft is slated to take place in France and would be brought to India, the official added. Earlier in the day, IAF’s Deputy Chief Air Marshal VS Chaudhuri said that no sovereign guarantees were given by the Russians in the S-400 air missile system deal. Briefing on the Vayu Shakti exercise, IAF Vice Chief Air Marshal Anil Khosla said “Rafale induction into the Air Force will give a big boost to our combat capabilities”. Sharing details of the ongoing exercise, he added: “LCA, Akash missile defence systems, ALH Dhruv and Airborne Early Warning and Control System Aircraft to represent the indigenous aircraft capability in the exercise”. However, Ambani has repeatedly refuted all allegations saying them baseless. Earlier on February 11, Air Marshal SBP Sinha who headed Rafale negotiations on behalf of India said that the anti-corruption clause in the Rafale deal was not there in the earlier government to government contracts signed with America and Russia. The UPA government in 2013 had come up with a new policy which allowed the Defence Ministry not to follow the laid down rules and sign inter-governmental agreements with friendly foreign countries as per mutually agreed provisions between both sides.