Opposition laps up Francois Hollande claim on Rafale, targets Narendra Modi government

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New Delhi : The opposition on Friday launched a renewed attack on the Narendra Modi government after French media reported former French President Francois Hollande as claiming that the Modi government had favoured a private Indian firm for the offset deal and France had "no choice".

Shortly after Hollande's comments that the French government did not have a say in picking the Indian company were reported in the Indian media, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the Rafale deal was doctored "behind closed doors" by PM Modi.

"The Prime Minister personally negotiated and changed the Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to a bankrupt," Gandhi said in a tweet.

"The Prime Minister has betrayed India. He has dishonoured the blood of our soldiers," Gandhi added.

Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram wondered as to what "new lie" the Modi government would come up with in response to the former French President's claim.

"In the NDA-negotiated Rafale aircraft deal, we have got no aircraft, we have got only lies. What is the new lie that the government will put out in response to Mr Hollande? Defence Minister has been called out again! This time by then President of France, Mr Hollande," Chidambaram wrote in Twitter.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the government was putting national security in peril by "hiding facts" of the Rafale fighter jet deal.

"By hiding crucial facts on Rafale deal, is Modi government not endangering national security? Former French President's statement directly contradicts what Modi government had been saying so far. Can the country be taken for a ride any further?" Kejriwal said.

"Prime Minister, speak the truth. The nation wants to know the truth, whole truth. Everyday, government of India's statements are being proven untrue. People have started suspecting by now that something is fishy has been done (in Rafale deal), else why would the government lie day after day," the Delhi Chief Minister added.

Joining the attack, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Secretary General Sitaram Yechury, too, demanded that truth on the deal must come out.

"The Modi government has lied and misled Indians. The whole truth must come out now. Why was the Indian government batting for one corporate house with no experience in defence manufacture?" Yechury said.

The opposition has been alleging that the Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence was favoured in the multi-thousand crore offset contract at the cost of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) despite the private firm having no prior experience in aerospace manufacturing.

The Modi government has repeatedly said it was Dassault that chose its India partner and that the government has had no say in the deal.