New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said that the Government of India showed the Secrecy Clause in the 2016 Rafale deal in Parliament, but Congress President Rahul Gandhi has refused to accept it . He asserted that Congress allegations on the government in the Rafale deal is based on “complete falsehood” .
In an exclusive interview to ANI, his first after resuming office following a three-month break, Jaitley said that after seeing the Secrecy Clause in the Parliament, the Congress President turned around and said: “It must be there but I don’t believe it .”
“Any responsible politician will know that government to government transactions are always clean . Governments don’t pay kickbacks . It’s a transaction between Government of India and Government of France, publically made and publically declared, terms that we will give you an offer better than 2007 and then enter into . But they had already gone home . If you can go to the extent of misquoting (French) President (Emmanuel) Macron, and saying that he warned me there is no Secrecy Clause, the French Government denied it .
The GoI (Government of India) showed the Secrecy Clause in the Parliament and then you turn around and say “hoga par main nahin manta” (it must be there but I don’t believe it) . If that is the cussed approach, that you say look my party has a legacy of corruption in defence deals, let me make a faint effort to say everybody is corrupt . If that is the political strategy, then please don’t advise us to show official files,” Jaitley said .
Jaitley added that the allegations by the Congress are based on “complete falsehood” and said that Rahul Gandhi himself has given “seven different prices in different speeches” in connection with the 2007 Rafale deal .
Gandhi in his speech during the debate on no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha had claimed that he had met French President Macron during his visit to India and had asked about the Secrecy Clause in the pact . The Congress president claimed that the French President had denied about any such clause .
However, France had clarified that there was a 2008 security agreement between the two countries in this regard that legally binds the two nations to protect classified information .
In a statement, the spokesperson of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs in Paris 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” .”