Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday asked his party colleagues to not stop or be afraid of fighting against the "corrupt" central government as truth was with them in every step.
His remarks came a day after a French investigative journal Mediapart made fresh claims that alleged bogus invoices were used that enabled French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation to pay at least 7.5 million euros in secret commissions to a middleman to help it secure the Rafale deal with India. There was no reaction yet from the defence ministry or Dassault Aviation on the latest report.
"When the truth is with you in every step, then what is there to worry about? My Congress colleagues - keep fighting like this against the corrupt central government. Don't stop, don't get tired, don't be afraid," Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi, using the hashtag "#RafaleScam".
According to Mediapart's investigation, Dassault Aviation paid the kickbacks to the intermediary in Mauritius between 2007 and 2012.
Mediapart had reported in July that a French judge has been appointed to lead a "highly sensitive" judicial investigation into suspected corruption" and favouritism in the Rs 59,000-crore inter-governmental deal with India for the supply of 36 Rafale fighter jets.
The NDA government had inked the deal on September 23, 2016, to procure 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation after a nearly seven-year exercise to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force did not fructify during the UPA regime.
The Congress had accused the government of massive irregularities in the deal, alleging that it was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government during the negotiations for the MMRCA.
Prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha election, Congress had raised several questions about the deal and alleged corruption, but the government had rejected all the charges. Rafale manufacturer Dassault Aviation and India's defence ministry have previously trashed allegations of any corruption in the contract. The Supreme Court too in 2019 dismissed petitions seeking a probe into the deal saying there was no ground for it. In a statement published in April, reacting to Mediapart's report on the investigation, Dassault Aviation had stated that the group, "acts in strict compliance with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and national laws".