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Rafale row: Sitharaman attacks Cong, asks if it is above apex court

twitter-logoPTI | December 21, 2018 | Updated 21:13 IST

Gandhinagar, Dec 21 (PTI) Attacking the Congress over the Rafale fighter jet deal, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Friday its campaign was based on "lies" and asked if the opposition party was trying to make the country believe it was above the Supreme Court. The Rahul Gandhi-led party is unwilling to even accept the apex court's verdict in the mega defence contract, she said. The Supreme Court had last week said there is no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from France, and dismissed all the petitions seeking an investigation into alleged irregularities in the Rs 58,000 crore deal. "A campaign on falsehoods, a campaign on lies till the time the Supreme Court came up with the verdict. Even after that, the Congress is not willing to accept the Supreme Court's verdict. "Are they making the country believe that they are above the Supreme Court? The Congress approach was from the start to campaign on the basis of lies to mislead the people, and this was proved on the issue of Rafale," Sitharaman said. She was speaking at the inaugural session of the two-day national convention of the BJP's women's wing here. The Congress has repeatedly criticised the deal, alleging the Modi government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised during the UPA rule. The charges have been denied by the government. Sitharaman said party workers, who are preparing for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, should understand that a "political game is being played by the Congress leadership". "The Congress is still trying with all its might to remove the corruption-free NDA government. We will face this through constant campaigning with all our might to expose the falsehood of the Congress by presenting our truth. We should all work together for this," she said. The minister asked women party workers gathered for the convention to brainstorm on the BJP's preparation for the upcoming general elections. She said the BJP has been at the forefront of empowering women within the party. On the other hand, the Congress was only "doing lip service" in the name of "Women's Reservation Bill," that seeks to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament and state assemblies, Sitharaman said. "We must remember that whenever there is a discussion on the Women's Reservation Bill, the Congress only does lip service. In 2008, the BJP was the first national party to have reservation for women from panchayat to national executive body. "Other national parties joined later," she said, while counting the number of women chief ministers, governors, MPs, mayors, MLAs and ministers from the BJP across the country. Sitharaman said she is a beneficiary of such a reservation in the party. "I was given an opportunity by the party and I am trying to fulfil (the responsibility) with full dedication. You will get better opportunity," she told the gathering. Sitharaman asked BJP workers to go among people and apprise them about the work done by the Modi government for women's empowerment. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who was also present at the inaugural session, said the Congress was feeling "overenthusiastic" due to its victory in the just held assembly polls in three Hindi-speaking states. This is why Congress leaders were "misleading the country through lies", he said. "We should understand the importance of the 2019 elections. While the BJP wants to remove poverty, corruption, the Congress wants to remove the BJP. "The BJP is committed to the upliftment of women. It has given many important portfolios to women," Rupani said. BJP Mahila Morcha national president Vijaya Rahatkar, party leaders Saroj Pandey and Ram Lal were prominent among those who attended the inaugural session. On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the concluding session of the convention. PTI KA PD RSY ANB ANB

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