Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence has filed a defamation suit against Congress leaders Randeep Singh Surjewala, Prithviraj Chavan, Sanjay Nirupam, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and others after they failed to respond to a ‘cease and desist’ notice issued against them by the company over the Rafale deal.
Anil Ambani had previously sent two letters addressed to Congress President Rahul Gandhi, asking his party to refrain from making unsubstantiated statements. An IndiaToday.Inreport says the notice had been sent in the form of a ‘cease and desist’ letter that asked the Congress party to stop spreading “misinformation” about Reliance Defence but since they failed to respond the company would fight the case in court.
The ‘cease and desist’ letter, sent to Congress national spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill, asked the Congress leaders, including Surjewala, Chavan and others, have been making “incorrect, frivolous and misleading statements” about the selection of Reliance Defence for a joint venture with French defence major Dassault Aviation as part of the Rafale deal. Shergil is one of the members of the Congress task force on the Rafael Deal. He said he is not scared of such notices.
The Congress party has been consistently targeting the BJP-led NDA government and Anil Ambani’s company over the Rafale deal. In his letter to Rahul Gandhi in December 2017, Ambani had said he was “personally saddened” after Gandhi asked PM Modi to explain his “Reliance on someone with nil experience in aerospace for the Rafale deal?”.
Accusing the Congress of spearheading a “vilification campaign” at the behest of the company rivals, Reliance Defence has warned these leaders from making frivolous and defamatory statements regarding the deal. Under the deal between India and France, India would buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France, and as part of the offset obligation, the French Dassault Aviation would invest 100 million euros in India to make the components for the fighter jets and Falcon civilian aircraft.
Ambani had earlier claimed that the decision to choose his company as a joint venture partner was an independent agreement between the two companies, and that the government of India had no role to play in it.
In his recent letter to Rahul Gandhi, the billionaire businessman had said the Congress had been misinformed, misdirected and misled on the Rafale deal, and that not a single component worth a single rupee was to be manufactured by Reliance for these 36 Rafale jets.
The Congress has also been accusing massive irregularities in the Rafale deal , alleging that the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government for the procurement of 126 Rafale jets. The deal negotiated by the UPA could not be inked. The Congress has also been pressing for price details of the deal, but the NDA government has refused to divulge them citing confidentiality provisions of a 2008 Indo-France pact.