Stepping up his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale fighter aircraft deal, Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi on Saturday, November 10 alleged that industrialist Anil Ambani's only qualification to bag the offset contract was his friendship with the "chowkidar".
Hours before the campaign for the first phase polling in Chhattisgarh on November 12 was to end, Rahul Gandhi told a rally that Modi, who projected himself as the "chowkidar" (watchman) of the country's resources, changed the fighter aircraft deal negotiated by the erstwhile UPA government to benefit his industrialist friend.
"(Dassault) Rafale was chosen by the IAF after 8-9 years of meticulous scouting for the best fighter jet the world over. But Modi, after becoming the Prime Minister, took Ambani in his delegation, changed the deal, and fixed the price at ₹1,600 crore per jet," Gandhi alleged, adding the erstwhile government had negotiated the price at Rs 526 crore a piece for the 126-aircraft deal.
"He also took away the offset contract from a government company, HAL, and gave it to Ambani who has never manufactured an aircraft," the Congress chief added.
Rahul Gandhi said Modi should explain to the country why he gave Ambani, who the Congress president claimed has a debt of ₹45,000 crore to banks, a deal of ₹30,000 crore.
"What is Anil Ambani's qualification. It is only that he is a friend of the chowkidar," he said.
Under India's offset policy, foreign defence entities are mandated to spend at least 30 per cent of the total contract value in India through procurement of components or setting up of research and development facilities.
While the Congress has consistently alleged that the fighter aircraft purchase was a "scam", the ruling BJP has maintained that the procurement was done as per rules.
Ambani, on his part, has also refuted these charges and has earlier issued legal notices to several people and media outlets who have carried the reports accusing him and his firm of irregularities in the deal.
Targeting Modi over his "urban Naxal" jibe at the Congress, Gandhi said, "Don't teach us patriotism. There is a line of martyrs in our party. Instead PM should explain Rafale deal to the country." Rahul Gandhi also brought up the Panama Papers leak.
He said that in Pakistan, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose name figured in the leak, was jailed, but here, PM Modi and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh have maintained silence despite the name of Raman Singh’s son allegedly being mentioned in the documents.
The allegation has been refuted several times by Singh's son.
Rahul Gandhi said if voted to power, the Congress will waive farmers' loans within 10 days of forming government.
"Bonus will be given to farmers for their produce and food processing plants will be set up in all districts where farmers' children will get employment," he added.