Congress president Rahul Gandhi sharpened his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi following the explosive statement from former French President Francois Hollande on Rafale deal.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday, the Congress chief said Hollande was calling the Prime Minister of India a “thief” and that it was time for PM Modi to break his silence.

“Former French president calls our PM a thief… What is staggering is that the Prime Minister is still silent on it. Not a single word from him,” said Gandhi.

“The former French president has clearly and categorically said that the prime minister himself suggested the name of Anil Ambani’s company. He says that in the meeting with the prime minister he was told that this was his only option. It is now for the prime minister to clear his name… we are absolutely convinced that the prime minister is corrupt. I’m trying to help him protect his office. He must clarify,” the Congress president added.

Read | It’s a surgical strike on defence forces by PM Modi, Anil Ambani: Rahul Gandhi on Rafale deal

Gandhi added that the contract was snatched away from HAL after which it was given to Anil Ambani, who has a Rs 45000 crore debt.

“Anil Ambani has never built an aircraft in his life. He floated his company few days before the deal, yet, the deal was taken away from HAL and given to Anil Ambani, who has a Rs 45000Cr debt. When I put these facts in front of PM Modi, he couldn’t meet my eye. Country’s ‘chowkidar’ turned out to be a thief,” Gandhi said.

Hollande had on Friday claimed that the Indian government had proposed the name of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the India partner for the 36 Rafale jet deal. He added that French government wasn’t given a choice on the matter.

France and the Dassault Aviation (the maker of the Rafale jet) have contradicted Hollande’s claim with Dassault admitting that it chose Rafale as its Indian partner.