A new subplot has emerged out of Rahul Gandhi's fight to make a scam out of India's Rafale deal with France, as sources have conveyed to Republic TV that the Congress president has moved to sever any legal ties his party may have with Anil Ambani's Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group of companies.
As per sources, Rahul Gandhi has asked the lawyers among his party leaders to refrain from appearing as counsels for Anil Ambani and his companies. The Congress counts many senior advocates among its ranks, including several who have occupied eminent ministerial berths in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA governments. The Congress lawyer-leaders include former Finance and Home Minister P Chidambaram, former I&B Minister Manish Tewari, former Minister of External Affairs and Law & Justice Salman Khurshid, as well Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi who is, however, unlikely to be a counsel for Anil Ambani given that the latter's company had in December 2017 filed a Rs 5000 crore defamation suit against him.
Sources have confirmed that in accordance with his new edict, Rahul Gandhi has made calls to some of the lawyer-leaders mentioned above and asked them to not engage with any form of litigation matter with Anil Ambani and his conglomerate.
The Congress president's new line comes against the backdrop of Anil Ambani's companies sending multiple notices to Congress spokespersons and Ambani, himself, telling Rahul Gandhi that he's 'misinformed, misdirected and misled', over the allegations with respect to the multi-billion dollar Rafale jet fighter deal, and specifically, the lucrative contract for maintaining the fighters, which has gone to the companies of Anil Ambani, which are burdened by a large debt, details of which are in the public domain, and whom Rahul Gandhi has been describing as 'PM Modi's friend'.
When Rahul Gandhi was asked about the defamation notices that have been filed against him and the Congress party, on August 30, the Congress president had said:
"Anil Ambani has filed defamation suits against the Congress party. Let him. But defamation suits don't change the truth."
Over the last week, the Indian Air Force has issued a set of staunch defences of the Rafale deal, with Air Marshal SB Deo, vice chief of the IAF, saying critics 'don't have information' and calling the Rafale a 'beautiful aircraft', and the Chief of Air Staff of the Indian Air Force, Air Marshal BS Dhanoa, stating:
"By providing the Rafale S-400, the government is strengthening the IAF to counter the shortfall of our depleting numbers."
The IAF chief also spoke about the necessity of going in for an emergency acquisition of fighter aircraft (another criticism) citing precedent, viz. the procurement of two squadrons of Mirage 2000 fighters from France in 1985 and of two squadrons of MiG 23 also in the early 80s.