Congress continued to attack the Modi government over the Rafale fighter jet deal after a heated debate over the issue in the Parliament today. Party president Rahul Gandhi held a press conference later in the day to pose questions over the purchase of 36 Rafale jets. He had also raised the issue in the Lok Sabha earlier today.
The Congress party chief opened the press meet with the mention of the audio tape which allegedly has voice of Goa health minister Vishwajit Rane. The tape recounts an alleged statement by Goa Chief Minister and former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar during a Cabinet meeting. Parrikar allegedly said that he had documents related to the Rafale deal 'in his bedroom'.
"Goa CM Manohar Parrikar is blackmailing the Prime Minister with the confidential documents he allegedly holds on the Rafale deal," Gandhi said.
Gandhi also asked whose decision was it to give preference to Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence over HAL which has 70 years of experience.
Gandhi also reiterated the demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the Rafale deal. "We are very confident that the moment there is a JPC, there will be two people whose names will come up, one will be Anil Ambani and the second will be Narendra Modi.
"Supreme Court's verdict clearly states that it is not their jurisdiction to investigate. The Supreme Court has not said that there should be no further investigation. Neither the court has said that there should not be a JPC," Gandhi said.
Rahul Gandhi stated that there are issues in the judgement with respect to the CAG report regarding the Rafale which the government said it has submitted. The Defence Ministry had requested a correction in the paragraph referring to the aforementioned CAG report being tabled before the parliamentary panel, saying that the inference arose due to a misunderstanding.
On the question of whether Congress will dump the Rafale deal once it comes to power, Gandhi said, "The capability and quality of the aircraft is not in question here. We are very clear that the Rafale aircraft is a good aircraft and we are not questioning whether it is a deficient aircraft. The thing that is being questioned here is whether the Prime Minister has changed the contract, developed a new contract and helped Anil Ambani steal from the Indian exchequer."
Edited by Vivek Punj