Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Thursday hit out at the Modi government for reportedly targeting a Defence ministry official who allegedly raised “objections” over the price of the Rafale jets.
He took to Twitter to take a swipe at Prime Minister Modi with a poem in Hindi alleging that he gave benefits to “crony capitalists” at the cost of state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in the Rafale deal.
Gandhi also alleged that the officer who raised questions over the deal was penalized, while those who sided with the government were rewarded. He tagged a media report that alleged that the Defence ministry official who raised objections over the price of the Rafale jets “proceeded” on a month’s leave and the 36-Rafale deal was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council thereafter.
Citing the same media report, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, in a tweet, claimed that the Modi government “sent on leave the ‘whistleblower”, who questioned the loss to the state exchequer “by paying 300% extra for 36 Rafale”.
He also alleged that a senior officer, who overruled the official who raised questions over the Rafale jets pricing, was made a member of UPSC (Union Public Service Commission). “Perks of pleasing Modi govt cover corruption tracks,” he claimed.
The Rafale deal controversy took a new turn last week after Francois Hollande, who was French president when the Rs 58,000 crore deal was announced, was quoted as saying by French publication Mediapart that France was given “no choice” in selection of the Indian partner for Dassault and the Indian government proposed the name of Reliance Defence as offset partner for the French aerospace giant.
Modi had announced the procurement of 36 Rafale fighters after holding talks with Hollande on April 10, 2015, in Paris.
Congress leader Jaipal Reddy on Thursday alleged that French President Emmanuel Macron did not contradict Hollande’s claim on Rafale deal which was tantamount to the confirmation of his predecessor’s claim.
“It is for the first time that the present French president Macron while answering a specific question avoided the question. He said I was not incharge at that time. In other words, he did not contradict the version of former French president Hollande,” he claimed.
Even as the Congress steps up its attack on the government, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar told a Marathi news channel that people do not doubt PM Modi’s intentions and that the opposition’s demand to share technical details relating to the fighter jet made no sense.
BJP chief Amit Shah lauded Pawar’s statement and tweeted, “I thank Sharad Pawar, a former Defence minister and veteran MP, for placing national interests above party politics and speaking the truth. Dear Rahul Gandhi, you would be wiser by believing your own ally and a leader of Pawar Saheb’s stature.” He tagged the Congress president in his tweet.
Home minister Rajnath Singh asked Congress leaders to advise their chief against using “derogatory” language to target the PM, an apparent reference to Gandhi’s “chor” (thief) jibe at PM Modi in his tweet. “It is not Rafale. It is Ra-fail (Rahul-fail). He will be a failure. Rahul Gandhi is trying to mislead the people on the issue,” Singh said.
Source: Financial Chronicle