NEW DELHI — The Congress President, Rahul Gandhi and various other political parties have reacted sharply to The Hindu’s report on the Rafale fighter jet deal.
Welcoming the investigative report, Rahul Gandhi on Friday said the report conclusively establishes the PMO was involved in the deal and it makes the Supreme Court judgment on Rafale questionable since “information was withheld from the court.”
At the height of negotiations over the controversial €7.87 billion Rafale deal between India and France, the Defence Ministry raised strong objections to “parallel negotiations” conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) with the French side, the report revealed.
At a press meet, Congress president Rahul Gandhi says, ”Today’s The Hindu report makes it crystal clear that the Prime Minister is conducting parallel negotiations. I appeal to the youth of this nation. The PM has stolen Rs. 30,000 crore of your money, bypassed the process and has given money to his friend. We have been calling for a JPC in this regard.
”It’s an open and shut case, President Hollande had said that PM has suggested the name of Anil Ambani. My friends in the Air Force… this money could have been used for your safety or could have been used for your families. When an officer [Defence Ministry officials who wrote the note] puts such a thing on a piece of paper, he is doing it for a reason, he is saying that the PMO has bypassed us. PM is a representative of Anil Ambani.
”The entire judgement of the Supreme Court is questionable as the SC didn’t have these documents. They lied to the court. Do you think the SC would have given the judgement if the papers were available to them?
‘PM is a thief’
”Do I look rattled to you? Hollande clearly said Indian PM is a thief as he suggested Anil Ambani to us. Now the Defence Ministry is saying that PM is a thief. You can do an inquiry on anyone you want. No problem. But do an inquiry on this as well. You allow the law on Robert Vadra, Chidambaram, no problem. But also answer on Rafale. It is absolutely clear that the PM has stolen from the country and the pilots.
“I hate to use the strong words, but can’t help telling the truth. It is now a duty to tell the country that the PM is a thief.”
Supreme Court’s contempt
DMK president M.K. Stalin said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had come under the Supreme Court’s contempt, as in its sealed envelope the Centre never mentioned about the PMO’s negotiations.
“Never in independent India, a PM was caught in such serious allegations. The cat is out of the bag,” he said.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tagging The Hindu‘s article, tweeted: “I’d like to see how this one is explained by the talking heads aligned to the BJP. @PMOIndia ‘weakened the negotiating position of the Ministry of Defence & the Indian Negotiating Team’ as per this note in a MOD file that went up the Defence Minister.”
Flogging a dead horse
Meanwhile, making a suo motu statement in the Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman dismissed the media report on the Rafale deal as “flogging a dead horse”, and accused the Opposition of playing into the hands of multinational companies and vested interests, reports The Hindu.
“They are flogging a dead horse. Periodical enquiries by the PMO cannot be construed as interference,” the Minister said during Zero Hour.
(With inputs from media)