In a dig at the BJP government at the Centre, Senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut has described the controversial Rafale deal as the “father of Bofors” and said Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s importance in the country’s politics had increased after repeatedly speaking against the deal.
In an article in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, Raut said those who accused Congress leader Sonia Gandhi’s relatives of receiving kickbacks worth Rs 65 crore in the Bofors deal were in power now. “Today, they are accused of pocketing Rs 700 crore in the Rafale jet deal. Rafale is the father of Bofors.”
Taking a dig at the Bharatiya Janata Party over Francois Hollande’s reported claims on the deal, the Sena MP wondered if the former French president would be dubbed a supporter of the Congress president or an “anti-national”.
On 21 September, a French media report quoted Hollande as purportedly saying the Indian government proposed Reliance Defence as an offset partner for Rafale maker Dassault Aviation in the Rs 58,000-crore deal and France did not have a choice.
“The question is not that Anil Ambani was given the contract for the fighter jets, but, as against the price of Rs 527 crore for each jet, the deal was done at Rs 1,570 crore during (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi government’s tenure. This means middlemen got a commission of about Rs 1,000 crore per jet,” the Sena leader said.
Raut termed it laughable the BJP’s allegations that Gandhi’s criticism of the deal was akin to “speaking in the words of Pakistan and helping” the neighbouring country. “The same allegations were levelled against the Congress during the Bofors deal (in late 1980s). Was it then not helping Pakistan? Those in power term Bofors a scandal… However, they are not ready to believe Rafale is also a scam.”
“In the country, only Rahul Gandhi was speaking against the Rafale deal, while all other political parties kept mum. Thus, Rahul is now getting more importance in the politics of the nation,” the Rajya Sabha MP said.