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Congress making fake controversies because its election strategy is failing: Jaitley

Arun Jaitley rejected Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s allegation of corruption in the Rafale deal.

india Updated: Jul 24, 2018 22:44 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Arun jaitley,Congress,Rafale deal
Arun Jaitley addressing a press conference in New Delhi.(HT File Photo)

The proposed federal front is more than eager to script the second part of the ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ (Congress-free India) campaign, and the best-case scenario for the party is to become a tail-ender in such an alliance and concede to it a large political space, Union minister Arun Jaitley wrote in a blog on Tuesday.

The senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader wrote that the Congress was also engaged in an implied battle with the federal front to reclaim the minority vote, but by redefining secularism as a euphemism for majority bashing, the Congress is antagonising the majority against itself.

Use of phrases such as Hindu ‘Taliban’ and ‘Hindu Pakistan’, he said, are intended to help the Congress against the federal front to reclaim the minority vote, but this also is likely to backfire. Both phrases were used by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who first said India was in danger of becoming a Hindu Pakistan if the BJP is re-elected next year. After he was bitterly criticized for that remark, Tharoor wondered if a Taliban was emerging in Hinduism. The Congress leadership tried to distance itself from the remarks.

“As equal participants in the Indian electoral process, the minorities have a constitutional right of a vote. But so does the majority,” Jaitley wrote in his blog.

The minister claimed the Congress knows about the danger of the next election becoming a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s performance, and said the popularity gap between Modi and his competitors is very wide.

The Congress, he said, is either non-existent or a poor third or fourth in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Tripura, parts of the North-East, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Delhi and Tamil Nadu. These states account for 50% of the Lok Sabha seats, he said, adding that Congress may have to concede seats in several other states to its allies. “It is, therefore, faced with the prospect of effectively contesting only about 225 seats where it will face a direct clash with the BJP,” he said.

“If the first part of the Congress Mukt Bharat was scripted by the BJP, the federal front is more than eager to script the part-2 of the same. Its message to the Congress is clear – ‘you will have to support us; the other way is not possible,”’ the minister wrote.

Jaitley claimed many in the Congress realize that they should concentrate on the 2024 general election, but their leaders in the age group of 65-74 know that 2019 is their last chance and they will probably be time-barred by 2024. “They are quite willing for a tail-ender’s role,” he wrote.

Jaitley described Congress’ strategy of consolidating arithmetic against Modi as a “double edged weapon” for the opposition party, which can push the Congress to the margins with the federal front occupying the opposition space.

He claimed that given such an adverse situation, the Congress was trying to invent issues against the Modi government.

“This will always happen in an election where you have an inadequate leader and no real issue,” he said, taking a dig at the Congress and the party’s president Rahul Gandhi, wondering what the party could do given its leader’s inherent and inbuilt limitations.

Jaitley accused the Congress of deliberately distorting the truth over the deal to purchase Rafale aircraft from Dassault Aviation of France, and said it was in line with past examples. Rahul Gandhi claimed in the debate on the no-confidence motion on Friday that French President Emmanuel Macron told him that there was no secrecy clause to the deal as claimed by the BJP; the government has refused to disclose financial details of the deal, citing such a clause. Gandhi’s claim was quickly rebutted by France, which said the clause was incorporated in an agreement in 2008, when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power.

Jaitley said the Rafale deal was a government-to-government agreement with no private group involved, and even the UPA ministers never disclosed the cost breakup of the weaponry in the national interest.

“The truth always holds together. It is falsehood that falls apart. So when Rahul Gandhi’s statement that President Macron told him that there is no secrecy pact got smashed into pieces, the next day the Congress Party shifted the Rafale issue to other extraneous grounds,” he said.

First Published: Jul 24, 2018 18:41 IST