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BJP drags Robert Vadra-Sanjay Bhandari link into Rafale debate

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New Delhi, Sep 25: There seems to be no end to allegations and counter-allegations hurled by the Congress and the BJP over the Rafale deal which ahs sent the political temperature soaring.

While the Congress is going hammer and tongs over former French president Francois Hollande's claim that Indian government pressed for Anil Ambani's firm to be made as an offset partner in the deal, the BJP is trying introduce a 'Robert Vadra angle' into the contentious debate.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra

"Rafale documents were recovered from Robert Vadra's close friend Sanjay Bhandari during a raid in 2016 at his house, how did these confidential documents reach there? Bhandari's company 'offset India solutions' was red flagged in 2014 by Modi Govt," BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said today (September 25).

"Two mails sent to Sanjay Bhandari with travel tickets worth of Rs. 8 lakh for Vadra for an Emirates Flight. First mail sent on Aug 7, 2012 has details of Vadra's travel plan for Aug 13 by flight no. EK71," he added.

['Rafale' vs 'Bofors': Can the two defence deals be compared?]

On Monday, the BJP accused Rahul Gandhi of being involved in a "conspiracy, internationally" to sabotage the Rafale deal and benefit his brother-in-law Robert Vadra, even as the Congress chief called Prime Minister Narendra Modi "India's commander-in-thief" in a veiled attack.

[How does the BJP see international conspiracy in questioning Rafale deal: Kapil Sibal]

Claiming that Gandhi wanted the fighter jet deal scrapped to help a firm linked to Vadra, the BJP yerterday alleged that the Congress chief was involved in a "conspiracy, internationally" and former French president Francois Hollande was part of the "nexus" to sabotage the procurement.

Who is Sanjay Bhandari and what is his alleged link to Robert Vadra?

Defence dealer Sanjay Bhandari became a high-profile defence consultant, liaison services provider and executor of offsets obligations for foreign armament companies after setting up his flagship company Offset India Solutions (OIS) Group in 2008 with a paid-up capital of just Rs 1 lakh.

Following the rapid escalation of the group into a multi-crore venture, it caught the eye of the investigators. Sanjay Bhandari's business dealings were red-flagged in 2014 after the NDA came to power.

One of the companies, OIS-Advanced Technology Private Ltd, has ventured into manufacturing military radars. The group includes several companies in the field of defence, aerospace and homeland security. Under the radar of both the Income Tax authorities and the Enforcement Directorate are the businesses of the company which is worth around several hundred crores.

[Reliance role in Rafale restricted to offset obligation, not aircraft manufacture: Air Marshal Pande]

The CBI had probed Bhandari after the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence had said that he was a kingpin of a scandal where he was importing cars by avoiding custom duty.

What is the alleged Bhandari-Vadra link? It is alleged that a property worth Rs 19 crore purchased in London in 2009 was allegedly funded by Sanjay Bhandari.

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