London: Congress president Rahul Gandhi today raked up the multi-billion Rafale deal in the UK, accusing the BJP government of changing the contract to benefit an industrialist who was in debt.
In an interaction with the National Indian Students and Alumni Union (UK) at the London School of Economics, Gandhi spoke of alleged corruption in the Rafale deal, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of favouring a businessman who had no experience in manufacturing aircraft.
Gandhi has been attacking the BJP government for allegedly inking the deal at a much higher price than the one the previous UPA regime had negotiated to benefit "one businessman".
Facing allegations of getting undue benefits from the multi-billion dollar Rafale deal, Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group has sent legal notices to several Congress leaders asking them to "cease and desist" from levelling such charges.
Gandhi, in response to a question on tackling corruption, said: "Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has been building aircraft for 70 years... HAL has no debt. HAL has by far the best experience in building aircraft in 70 years".
"Our government signed a contract with Dassault, and gave the contract to HAL. The price we were paying was approximately 520 crores.
"Then something happened, Prime Minister Modi went to France, changed the contract from 126 planes to 36 planes, changed the pricing structure from 520 crores to 1,600 crores and magically, Mr Anil Ambani was given the contract," Gandhi said.
The Congress president alleged that "Mr Anil Ambani is Rs 45,000 crore in debt".
"Mr Anil Ambani has never made a plane in his life, and the company that got the contract, one of the biggest defence contracts in the world, was formed one week before, luckily this is absolutely amazing. So that's the interesting question about corruption," Gandhi said.
Reliance Group has denied the allegations relating to the deal under which France's Dassault is supplying the fighter jets and has entered into a joint venture with an Anil Ambani-led group firm to meet its offset requirement of the contract.
Ambani recently wrote to Gandhi on the deal saying his party has been "misinformed, misdirected and misled" by "malicious vested interests and corporate rivals" on the issue.