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Jaitley questions Hollande’s claims, says erroneous to suggest partnership in Rafale deal

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New Delhi, Sep 23 : The slugfest over the Rafale deal continued on Sunday with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley citing conflicting media reports on Francois Hollande’s claims regarding a private firm becoming an as offset partner in the jet deal at the instance of Modi government and asserting that there was “no partnership as suggested by the former French President”.

Riding on Hollande’s remark to French website Mediapart that that the Indian government had proposed choosing a private firm as an offset partner, the opposition has been gunning for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime with Congress president Rahul Gandhi even claiming that the former French President had called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “thief”.

While both the Defence Ministry and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad have maintained that the Indian government had no role in the choice of the offset partner, Jaitley took to social media to reiterate the assertions and pointed to Hollande’s “contrasting remarks”.

“A controversy is sought to be created on the basis of a statement made by Hollande, that the Reliance Defence ‘partnership’ with Dassault Aviation was entered at the suggestion of the Indian GOvernment.

“In a subsequent statement the former President has sought to suggest that Reliance Defence emerged on the scene after the agreement with the Indian Government was entered into. He has, in a subsequent statement, said that he is ‘not aware’ if government ever lobbied for Reliance Defence and that athe partners chose themselves’. Truth cannot have two versions,” wrote Jaitley in a blogpost.

Jaitley also cited the French government and Dassault Aviation (makers of the Rafale jets) of having “categorically denied the correctness of Hollande’s first statement” (made to Mediapart)

“The French government has stated that the decision with regard to the offset contracts of Dassault Aviation are taken by the company and not the Government. Dassault Aviation itself has suggested that they have entered into multiple contracts with several public sector and private sector companies with regard to the offset contracts and the decision is entirely theirs,” he said.

“Without commenting on the correctness or otherwise of a controversy in the French media, it may be mentioned that the former French President Hollande, is countering statement made against him with regard to a conflict of interest in his dealing with the Reliance Defence.

“The accuracy of the statements made by the individuals may be questioned but circumstances never lie,” said Jaitley, addin that “there is no ‘partnership’, as suggested by the former President with regard to the 36 Rafale aircraft”.

Contending that it was a “government to government agreement” with no manufacturing is to be done in India, Jaitley said it was “erroneous for anybody to suggest that there is a partnership in the supply of the 36 Rafale aircraft”.

Citing a media report that quoted Hollande as saying that “France did not choose Reliance in any way”, Jaitley said: “His (Hollande) second statement in Montreal, Canada, to AFP makes the veracity of his first statement even more questionable”.

“One Reliance Group was a part of this deal since 2012. It dropped out of defence production. The other Reliance Group was already in defence. They are not partners in the Rafale deal. They have no contract with either the government of India or of France. They were not selected as one of the many offset partners by any government.

“‘The partners (Dassault and Reliance) selected themselves’ as former President Hollande now says. This contradicts his first questionable statement which the French government and Dassault have denied. The facts contradict the same,” he said.

The AFP report claims Hollande as saying that he was “unaware” about if India had put pressure on Reliance and Dassault to work together and said “only Dassault can comment on this”.

Jaitley reiterated that neither the French or the Indian Government has any say in selecting the offset partner and targeted Gandhi over the issue.

“The former French President’s first statement rhymes with Rahul Gandhi’s prediction.

The Congress Party’s official handle on 31.8.2018 had carried the tweet of one of its leader “It is evident that Anil Ambani bribed President Hollande through his actor-partner to get the Dassault partnership”.

“For the Congress Party to allege that a former President had been bribed by an Indian business group and then use him as a primary witness, particularly when he is facing criticism for an alleged conflict of interest within his own country.

“Rahul Gandhi has made an absurd suggestion that the interest of Indian soldiers has been compromised with. By whom? The UPA which delayed the acquisition which would have added to the Military’s combat ability or the NDA which expedited the same at a lower cost,” he added.

Notwithstanding the contradictory report by the AFP, an India media house (NDTV) has reported that Hollande’s office has reiterated that the former French President stands by his statement that the Indian government proposed Reliance Defence as the India partner for the 36 Rafale jet deal.

India

Leaking national secret to journalist is a criminal act: Rahul Gandhi

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New Delhi, Jan 19 : Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that leaking sensitive information related to the national secret of a planned attack to a journalist is a “criminal act” and persons behind this should be put in prison.

To a question about the alleged chats discussing the Balakot air strike after the February 14, 2019 Pulwama terror strike on CRPF convoy, Rahul Gandhi said, “Leaking of any sensitive information is a criminal act. This applies to the person who sends it and the person who receives it.”

He said that such a sensitive issue was a subject of national secret regarding a planned air strike which is only either with the Prime Minister, Union Home Minister, Union Defence Minister, Indian Air Force Chief and the National Security Advisor.

“I want to know who among the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Defence Minister or NSA leaked secret information to the journalist. This is a criminal act. If the journalist had such information on his WhatsApp, I assume the Pakistanis too had it,” he said.

He also said that by leaking such information to a journalist risked the IAF fighter jets and pilots and this was not an act of “patriotism”.

He also said for leaking such a classified information, the process of putting the people in prison should start.

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Image of India built by Congress being destroyed by PM Modi: Rahul Gandhi

He also accused the government of “destroying” Indian agriculture by enacting the three farm laws.

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Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, Jan 20: Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday hit out at the Centre over the farmers’ agitation, saying that the “image” of India built by the Congress is being “destroyed” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Commenting on the farmers’ protests at several borders of the national capital for the last 54 days over the three farm laws, he said that “a tragedy is unfolding” and the only solution to end the deadlock is to repeal the three farm laws.

Addressing a press conference here at the party headquarters, Rahul Gandhi said, “India used to be a pre-eminent economy in the world. Now we are a laughing stock. We are unable to provide jobs to the youth. Farmers are protesting outside in the cold. I don’t know why Modiji thinks that it is something to be proud of.”

“This is something to be ashamed of. The whole world is looking and asking why lakhs of farmers are sitting outside Delhi. So, Modi is destroying the image of India that Congress and Mahatma Gandhi built slowly and steadily,” he said.

“That is the reality,” he said, adding that the only solution to this is to repeal the three farm laws.

Slamming the government, the Congress leader said that the government believes it can tire out the farmers.

“But farmers cannot be tired or fooled. They are much smarter than the Prime Minister. Only solution to end the protests is to repeal the three farm laws,” he said.

He also accused the government of “destroying” Indian agriculture by enacting the three farm laws.

Rahul Gandhi also launched a booklet on the three farm laws titled ‘Kheti ka Khoon’.

He further said that there is a tragedy unfolding today in the country, and the government wants to ignore the issue and mislead the country. “I am not going to speak about farmers alone as it is only part of the tragedy. It’s also important for youngsters. This is not about the present but about your future,” he said.

“The rice and wheat that you (middle class) buy comes at the rate you purchase because of APMC and the agricultural system. This is not just an assault on farmers but on the middle class and on every single youngster in the country, who is not able to get a job,” he said.

He said, “What we have seen in industry after industry, when it comes to the airports, telecom, power, retail, across the board, what we are watching is the development of massive monopolies.”

He alleged that “three-four-five people are owning this country, and they are owning it as a small group of people who are close to the Prime Minister and have media support.”

“And now we have seen that the last bastion of agriculture that was not touched by industries is also going away,” he said.

He said that now three or four people will own the whole system and the farmers will not get their prices and the middle class will be hurt by the prices.

The Congress leader said that the farmers of Punjab and Haryana are fighting on behalf of 65 crore farmers of the country.

“They are the patriots of the country, who are protecting livelihood of 65 crore people. I support them, they are fighting for us,” Rahul Gandhi said.

To a question about China’s intrusion, Rahul Gandhi said, “China is noticing the weakness of India. China has a strategic vision as it wants to shape the entire world. China has tested India twice. If India won’t create a strategy against China, it will take benefit of that and then no one would be able to stop the damage.”

He said that the job of safeguarding the country is not being done properly.

“China is testing India and it wants to dominate. I am raising red flags, you can’t manage China with event management,” he said.

He added that whoever speaks against the government is described as an anti-national or criminal.

“We are saying this because we are seeing the problems. If we speak about China we are enemies. When we are giving warning signals, we are enemies. Even if the farmers’ protest is sorted out, then its result will come from somewhere else like from youth or someone else.

“Their approach is wrong, they don’t want to learn and accept. They only want to speak, it is the training by the RSS, they are top grade in this,” he added.

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Gujarat govt renames ‘dragon fruit’ as kamalam

It should be noted that the lotus is the symbol of the BJP and the state BJP headquarters in Gandhinagar is also named ‘Shri Kamalam’.

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Gandhinagar Jan 20: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, while interacting with the media on Tuesday, said that the government has applied for a patent to change the nomenclature of dragon fruit to ‘Kamalam’.

According to the CM, the word dragon for the fruit sounded inappropriate and so the Gujarat government had decided for the fruit to be called as Kamalam.

While interacting with the media on Tuesday during the launch of the Chief Minister Horticulture Development Mission, Rupani said, “We have applied for the patent of the Dragon fruit to be called as Kamalam. But as of now, we the Gujarat government have decided to call the fruit as Kamalam.”

“Even though the fruit is known as dragon fruit, it doesn’t sound appropriate. The word Kamalam is a Sanskrit word and the fruit does have the shape of the lotus, so we have decided to call it Kamalam, and there’s nothing political about it,” Rupani added.

According to the CM, the fruit has long since been grown as a form of cactus in the country. “Nobody has to be alarmed by the word Kamalam,” Rupani added.

It should be noted that the lotus is the symbol of the BJP and the state BJP headquarters in Gandhinagar is also named ‘Shri Kamalam’.

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