NEW DELHI: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday raised more issues related to the Rafale deal controversy at a press conference held at the Congress headquarters in Delhi.
Based on an Indian Express report, he alleged that Anil Ambani, whose company is an offset partner in the Rafale deal, had met French government officials 10 days ahead of PM Narendra Modi's visit to France in April 2015. He asked how a private individual could have known of a defence agreement in advance of the deal being signed, especially when even the defence minister of foreign secretary or Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) were not in the know.
The Congress President said there were three aspects of the Rafale deal in question — corruption, procedures, and a possible violation of the Offcial Secrets Act.
Gandhi also took a swipe at a CAG, calling it "chowkidar auditor general". Calling the CAG report on defence procurements, to be tabled in the Lok Sabha 'absolutely worthless', he said the report was "of the chowkidaar, for the chowkidaar, by the chowkidaar".
Earlier, the Congress party's communication incharge, Randeep Surjewala tweeted that the government stood exposed after this report.
In the past few days, reports by The Hindu have kicked up a controversy over aspects of the Rafale deal. The Congress President had last Friday held a press conference after a report claimed that a former defence secretary had objected to the so-called 'parallel negotiations' on the Rafale deal being conducted by the Prime Minister's Office with French government officials.
On Monday, another report suggested that the government had waived certain anti-corruption clauses in the 7.87-billion-euro Rafale deal.
The Congress party has also accused Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Rajiv Mehrishi of committing 'gross impropriety' by auditing the Rafale deal as the finance secretary in April 2015, when the deal was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The CAG report was to be tabled in the Lok Sabha today but the revised order of business doesn't mention it.