Fresh war of words breaks out between BJP, Congress over Rafale review verdict
BJP leaders demanded an apology from the Congress and its former president Rahul Gandhi for alleging wrongdoing in the purchase. Gandhi reiterated his demand for the formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee JPC) to probe the deal.Updated: Nov 15, 2019 00:42 IST
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress squared off afresh on Thursday after the Supreme Court rejected petitions seeking a review of its December 2018 decision to deny a court-monitored probe of the ~59,000 crore Rafale jet fighter deal.
BJP leaders demanded an apology from the Congress and its former president Rahul Gandhi for alleging wrongdoing in the purchase. Gandhi reiterated his demand for the formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee JPC) to probe the deal.
Gandhi alleged impropriety in the purchase of Rafale fighter jets, manufactured by Dassault Aviation of France, one of the Congress’s planks in the April-May Lok Sabha polls in which the BJP won a back-to-back mandate with a bigger Parliamentary majority than it did in 2014.
BJP president and home minister Amit Shah said the SC’s decision had, yet again, reaffirmed the Narendra Modi government’s credentials as a transparent and corruption-free dispensation. Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad called the judgment “a victory of truth, India’s security, and recognition of the honest decision making process” of the Modi government.
Defence minister Rajanth Singh also tweeted that the BJP stood vindicated by the verdict.
“The purchase of Rafale jets was done in a completely transparent manner, keeping in mind the urgency to update and upgrade India’s defence preparedness.... the allegations made by certain political parties and their leaders were extremely unfortunate, unwarranted and laced with malicious intent,” Singh tweeted.
Rahul Gandhi tweeted a picture of the concluding paragraphs of justice KM Joseph’s separate ruling on the matter and said it had opened an avenue for a further investigation.
“Justice Joseph of the Supreme Court has opened a huge door into investigation of the Rafale scam. An investigation must now begin in full earnest. A Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) must also be set up to probe this scam,” Gandhi tweeted.
Justice Joseph said the Central Bureau of Investigation can, if it so wishes, approach the government seeking permission to probe the complaint in the Rafale case, which was interpreted by some as the judge holding out the possibility of an investigation by the agency. Some others maintained that the judge was merely laying out the principles of law.
Senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said, “The heart of the judgment says that at the macro level, the SC can’t give a finding and it is up to an appropriate agency to probe into the issue and prosecute.”
Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that the BJP’s “celebrations” were misplaced. He said that the court has, in fact, reaffirmed the Congress’s stance that the court has “limited jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution” and that the court was not an appropriate forum to decide on the Rafale issue.