Shah targets RaGa over ex-biz partner’s defence contracts during UPA rule

Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah on Saturday pushed back Congress chief Rahul Gandhis attacks on the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a telling tweet: “Midas Touch, no deal is too much!

“When he has a say, his business partners make hay. Doesn’t matter if India suffers on the way! #StealLikeRaga.”

The reference was to a media expose on how his former business partner at Backops Limited in the UK — the same company that in its documents for incorporation had said that Rahul Gandhi was a British citizen — had got offset defence contracts during UPA rule.

The former partner, Ulrik Mcknight, who was also co-owner at BackOps, acquired defence assets when the UPA was in power at the centre. The media story claimed that Rahul Gandhi had a 65 per cent stake in Backops between 2003 and 2009, when it was wound up.

However, after that McKnight acquired offset contracts from French defence supplier Naval Group against Scorpene submarines in 2011. He also went on and signed a contract with a Visakhapatnam-based firm for the supply of critical parts for the Scorpene missile, a report in Business Today said.

At a press conference on Saturday, Rahul Gandhi responded to the charges and to Shah’s remarks, saying, “Please take any investigation you want and any action against me. I have no problem as I have not done anything wrong. But please also investigate Rafale.”

There is also a company named Backops Services Private Limited, an Indian firm, in which Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra served as co-director. Rahul Gandhi owned 83 per cent shares in this Indian firm and had made a capital investment of Rs 2.50 lakh in the same. This also folded up. As for McKnight, he won the offset contracts from the French company, the Business Today report said.

In 2011, as part of his contract with the Naval Group, McKnight had signed a contract with Visakhapatnam-based Flash Forge Private Limited for the supply of critical parts for the Scorpene submarines being built at Mumbai’s Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) — the contract to build the submarines was worth Rs 20,000 crore, the Business Today report said.

The Indian firm Flash Forge also acquired a UK-based company named Optical Armour Limited in which Mcknight was given directorship. He also had 4.9 per cent shares in it.

For the record, the Indian and European companies associated with Rahul Gandhi were dissolved before the Naval Group engaged in a contract with Flash Forge, the Business Today report said.

The website of the Naval Group refers to a September 18, 2018, event to mark 10 years in business for Naval Group in India.

“Naval Group in India was created in 2008 as a 100 per cent-owned subsidiary of the group to ensure a long-lasting presence in the country, thereby demonstrating the strong commitment to the Indian Navy.

“This partnership led to the emergence of an industrial ecosystem which fosters the indigenous manufacturing of submarines,” it says.

IANS