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Rahul Gandhi dares PM Narendra Modi for debate on Rafale deal

The Congress has raised several questions on the Rafale deal, accusing the government of compromising with national interests.

india Updated: Aug 13, 2018 22:22 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Bidar/New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi,PM Narendra Modi,Rafale deal
Congress president Rahul Gandhi addresses the party workers at a meeting at Ramlila Maidan in Jaipur.(PTI File Photo)

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a debate on the Rafale aircraft deal issue. The Congress has raised several questions on the Rafale deal, accusing the government of compromising with national interests.

“...let a debate happen between me and Narendra Modi on Rafael deal... I will speak at length for hours,” Gandhi said at “Jana Dwani” (people’s voice) rally organised by the state Congress here in north Karnataka.

In a scathing attack on the Modi government, Gandhi said, “Chowkidar Hi Bhaagidar Hai. (This watchman is a collaborator),” and accused the Prime Minister of “stealing” taxpayers’ money and giving it to his “friend” whose firm he alleged had bagged a contract in the Rafale deal.

Focussing most part of his speech on attacking Modi, the Congress chief charged, he was “not the Prime Minister of the country but he is the Prime Minister of 15 super rich businessmen.”

India had inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September last year for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore.

Gandhi also hit out Modi on incidents of rapes and said, the Prime Minister gave the slogan of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ but he did not say from whom the girl child be saved.

“Rape happens in Uttar Pradesh and BJP leader is caught. When small girls in Bihar are raped, we see BJP leaders hanging around there. However, the Prime Minister does not speak a word on it,” he said.

Rahul targeting Modi because of I-T probe in National Herald case: BJP

The BJP on Monday hit out at Congress president Rahul Gandhi, saying he was spreading a “blatant lie” against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government over alleged corruption in the Rafale deal to escape the income tax department inquiry against him related to the National Herald case.

Addressing a press conference her, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the Rafale deal was completely transparent and honestly executed between two heads of government and its price is nine per cent less than what was negotiated under the UPA government.

“Let the country know as to how upon a mere transfer of Rs 50 lakh, the AICC transferred the entire liability of Rs 90 crore to the Young India company which was a majority company owned by two individuals Sonia ji and Rahul Gandhi,” he said.

“And how is it by that process the entire property of Associated Journal comes to be owned by Young India company again owned by two individual, substantially. Rest very minority shareholder,” he added.

The BJP leader said the real reason behind Rahul Gandhi’s accusation was that the Income Tax Department has been seeking a revision for financial year 2011-12 related to the transactions between the National Herald and Young India Pvt Ltd (YI).

“If Rahul Gandhi thinks that by accusing Modi and his government of corruption, the action against him is going to get away, he is mistaken. It is not going to happen,” Prasad said, claiming that the Congress president was liable to pay Rs 154 crore.

Rahul Gandhi has moved the court challenging a notice issued against him by the income tax department seeking to re-open his tax assessment for financial year 2011-12 related to the transactions between National Herald and Young India Pvt Ltd (YI). He and his mother Sonia Gandhi are major stakeholders in Young India which has acquired Associated Journals Limited (AJL). National Herald newspaper was published by AJL.

Prasad said that there was a design behind Rahul Gandhi’s “reckless, baseless and false” accusations and refuted it, saying “The Rafale deal was completely transparent and honestly executed between two heads of government.”

Slamming the Congress President for continuously speaking a lie inside Parliament and repeating the same outside Parliament, Prasad said that the price of the Rafale deal during the NDA government was 9 percent less than what was negotiated under the UPA government.

Justifying the government’s stand on non-disclosure of the price in the Rafale deal, he mentioned several answers given by former Defence Ministers A. K. Antony and Pranab Mukherjee in Parliament.

“For 10 years your defence ministers repeatedly telling on the floor of the house that secret weapon acquisition and its pricing cannot be revealed under national interest and security interest. You don’t deny it. Then you repeat the same lie. This is irresponsible and against national interest. How long will you ignore national interest for the sake of your propaganda,” he said.

Gandhi has been targeting the Prime Minister and his government over the Rafale deal with France and asking why a 70-year-old defence public sector company Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was ignored for manufacturing the fighter jet.

Gandhi has also questioned how the cost of one aircraft, which was Rs 540 crore when the UPA government had signed the deal, rose to thrice its value to Rs 1,600 crore under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the Centre.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

First Published: Aug 13, 2018 16:04 IST