Rahul Gandhi is trying to help Pakistan: Ravi Shankar Prasad

"He must clarify", Gandhi said. "He has dishonoured the blood of our soldiers", Congress President tweeted.

The Congress, from its official Twitter handle, said the former French president had exposed "the web of lies" spun by the Modi government.

The Bharatiya Janata Party president used the hashtag #NaPakNaCongress (Neither Pakistan not Congress) to make his point.

The Congress and other opposition parties latched on to the report and stepped up their attack on the Modi government over the deal.

Former defence minister Manohar Parrikar had said it was Modi who had finalised the Rafale deal with Hollande in 2015.

Asked about the French Government stating that it was not involved in selecting the offset partner, Gandhi said: "It is very clear that the French government has given a statement that is stating what the procedures (are)".

The Rafale deal has come under concerted attack from the Opposition, which has charged the government with paying an inflated price, with endangering national security by cancelling an on-going tender for 126 Rafales, and with facilitating the selection of The Reliance Group as a partner for Dassault.

The Rafale deal is an Indo-French agreement for the procurement of 36 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircrafts (MRCA) jet fighters built by the French defence manufacturer Dassault Aviation.

Opponents of the Modi government had accused it of tweaking the contract to benefit a particular business house - the Reliance Defence of Anil Ambani - to be the "offset" partner of the French makers of the aircraft, Dassault Aviation. "We have been saying that there is a scam and the prime minister has helped him".

The Minister said that the Indian government is not concerned about why former French President Francois Hollande said what he said. Escalation of a mere 1100 crore. "We were given no choice, we took the partner which was appointed". Irrespective of their veracity, he points out the remarks has the potential to jeopardize the Rafael deal apart from embarrassing both the French and the Indian government. "I am sure the Euro equivalent would not be a problem to calculate".

Gandhi also alleged that Reliance had no experience making fighter jets and was not in a financial position to receive such a prominent, so-called "offset" contract, which requires companies to invest additional money in India.

"The fact that two sovereign heads of States negotiated a deal means that there is no room for corruption", said Sudesh Verma, BJP spokesperson.

The former French president Francois Hollande on Friday said that the Indian government had proposed Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as the offset partner in the Rafale deal, and they were left with no choice.

Ten days after India sealed the government-to-government agreement on the Rafale deal, Reliance Defence and Dassault had announced a joint venture (JV) in the aerospace sector and a year later, the foundation stone of a manufacturing facility was laid in Mihan, Nagpur. "It is reiterated that neither GoI nor French Govt had any say in the commercial decision".

  • Rogelio Becker