Hitting back at Rahul Gandhi for his “thief” jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday said “irresponsible, shameless and baseless” remarks were being made by a family which is out on bail in the National Herald case and is the source of all corruption in the country.
Addressing the media, a livid Prasad rejected Gandhi’s demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the issue, saying a JPC probe is not set up to “satisfy the ego of an ill informed and ignorant leader”.
By making such remarks against the Prime Minister, who has eliminated corruption in the country, Gandhi has sought to throw black paint on his own face, the minister said.
“Rahul Gandhi’s statement is utterly irresponsible. He is playing into the hands of Pakistan and China by insisting on the disclosure of the price and other details which will help our enemies. I charge Rahul Gandhi is trying to help Pakistan,” he said.
Rejecting the Congress allegations in the wake of former French President Francois Hollande’s reported statement that the Indian government insisted on Reliance Defence as the offset partner for Dassault Aviation in 2015, Prasad recounted the history of the deal from 2006 and said there was contemporaneous evidence to show that the choice of offset partner, a Reliance company, was made in 2012 itself during the UPA rule, much before Modi became Prime Minister.
“There is evidence available that a proper MoU existed between Dassault and Reliance industry as early as on February 13, 2013, that means one year, four months before we came to power,” he said.
Prasad said that the offset clause was finalised by the UPA in 2012 and the choice of the private firm in place of HAL was entirely that of Dassault. “In fact the UPA had ditched the HAL,” he said.
He said both the French government and Dassault have made authoritative statements denying the involvement of the government in the selection of the private firm.
“I don’t know the reasons and compulsions of the former French President to say what he had said,” Prasad said and made a reference to a question of conflict of interest being raised against the former French President whose partner’s film was co-produced by the private firm.