Rahul Gandhi has gone all guns blazing after the Rafale deal which the Modi government signed with France. Earlier, France had refuted Rahul Gandhi’s claims in parliament that French president Macron had told him there was no secret clause.

Following this, strategic affairs analyst Nitin A Gokhale had written a detailed piece on DNA explaining why Rahul Gandhi’s allegations flew against the facts. 

He had written: “Clearly, Rahul Gandhi is unaware of these facts or is deliberately choosing to ignore the reality. Also, to say a private company, allegedly close to the Prime Minister will stand to benefit because of nepotism, is also contrary to facts. Dassault Aviation like any other original equipment manufacturer is free to choose its offset partners. Several private companies and not just one besides the Govt of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will execute the offset obligations (supply defence industrial good or absorb some of the technology) and NOT co-produce Rafale as described by the uninitiated. Clearly, the Congress is hoping that noise will prevail over facts.”

Despite this, Rahul Gandhi continued his tirade against the deal alleging favouritism, tweeting on Friday that a joint venture of Mr 56’s friend received $20 billion actual benefits through offset contracts. Taking to Twitter, Gandhi said he forgot to mention earlier about the offset contracts of USD 16 billion to the private entity's joint venture, and said the actual benefit is of USD 20 billion, equivalent to Rs 1,30,000 crore. "Dear Trolls, I apologise for my earlier tweet in which I stated Mr 56's friend's JV, received 4 Billion US$'s of 'off set' contracts. "I forgot to add the 16 Billion US$ RAFALE lifecycle contract. 20 BILLION US$, is the actual benefit. So Sorry!!," he tweeted, using the hashtag "130000CroreRafaleScam".

Gandhi’s allegations seem to be aimed at Reliance Defence which he alleges got the aircraft instead of public sector HAL. He claimed in parliament on July 20 that the government had taken away from the state-owned HAL and given it to a business who had ‘never build an aeroplane in his whole life’.

Sandeep Unnithan writing for India Today explains, that there was ‘no proposal for Rafale to build the aircraft locally’. Ergo, there was no question of Modi government 'taking the deal away' from HAL and ‘giving it’ to Reliance.

What Rahul Gandhi was probably referring to Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence which has an offset plan under which Dassault Aviation will partner with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence to reinvest 50% of the 36 Rafale deal from partners in Indian industry.

The contract signed with the Ministry of Defence states that the original equipment manager (OEM) have to source 30-50% of the value of a defence contract from the Indian market.

For the Rafale deal, Unnithan explains that it would come up to Rs 30,000 crore worth of components which would be from the Indian partner. The Dassault-Reliance JV partnership is one of the 72 partnerships Dassault has forged. Others on the list include Godrej, L&T and TATA Advanced Systems. This is not the government of India's call. 

Also, the defence ministry’s policy gives agency to the OEM to choose their own partner. So far, the OEM hasn’t told the Indian government about its partners, and 'they are permitted to provide details either at time of seeking offset credits or one year because of discharge of obligations'.

As NDTV defence editor Vishnu Som explained to one Twitter user, clearance from the cabinet is not required at this moment. He wrote: “Clearance from the cabinet is not needed at this stage. Dassault picked Reliance. The government of India did not. The GOI enters the fray when it needs to verify the discharge of the offset clause. That is later, not now.”

Even in 2015, Reliance Defence was talked off as one of the companies which were in talks, according to the French side.

In fact, Modi govt which has been hailed as a great communicator is failing to set the record straight over this. This is something for which we need to hear Modi’s Mann Ki Baat. 

With all the information that has been clearly provided to us right now, from statements from both governments of India and France, and independent experts, Congress president Rahul Gandhi appears to be clutching at straws.