New Delhi: After Congress president Rahul Gandhi claimed in Parliament on Friday that he had learnt from the French President that there was no secrecy clause in the Rafale aircraft deal, the French Embassy in New Delhi issued a statement to cite an India Today interview of their President and affirmed that the deal was sensitive and hence the details cannot be revealed.
The statement by the French Embassy put Congress in a spot and Rahul Gandhi probably lied on the issue going by the reaction of France, as it said that India is bound by the secrecy clause.
It said: “We have noted the statement of Mr Rahul Gandhi before the Indian Parliament. France and India concluded in 2008 a Security agreement, which legally binds the two States to protect the classified information provided by the partner, that could impact security and operational capabilities of the defence equipment of India or France.”
“These provisions naturally apply to the IGA concluded on 23 September 2016 on the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircraft and their weapons. As the President of the French Republic indicated publicly in an interview given to India Today on 9th March 2018, « In India and in France, when a deal is very sensitive, we can’t reveal all details,” the statement by French Embassy in New Delhi read.
During the day in Parliament, countering Rahul Gandhi’s allegations over the Rafale deal, Defence Minister Sitharaman has said a secrecy deal with France was signed in 2008 under the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.
Targetting Prime Minister Narendra Modi directly during his speech on the No Confidence Motion in Lok Sabha on Friday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said Sitharaman lied about the facts of the Rafale deal and a secrecy clause with France under pressure of the PM.
“Nirmala Sitharaman lied to the country over the Rafale deal under Prime Minister Narendra Modi when she said she could not reveal the details of the deal owing to a secret pact with France. There is no such pact,” said Rahul.
The Congress president said he came to know from French President Emmanuel Macron himself that there was no secret pact between India and France.
He attacked the PM and the BJP on ‘favouritism’ on the Rafale deal by assigning it to a businessman with no experience in building planes, instead of to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)
Rubbishing Rahul’s allegations, Sitharaman said a secrecy agreement was signed in 2008 under then Defence Minister AK Antony.
Amid pandemonium, she further said Macron told an Indian media outlet (India Today) in an interview that the commercial details of the Rafale jets deal can’t be revealed.
The BJP is bringing a privilege motion against Rahul Gandhi for his speech in Parliament during the day.
Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP has brought the no-confidence motion, demanding a special status for Andhra Pradesh.
The motion is supported by the Congress, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
–India Blooms News Service