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Rahul accuses Modi of politicising air strikes, attacks him on Rafale

twitter-logoPTI | March 7, 2019 | Updated 19:22 IST

Dharamshala, Mar 7 (PTI) Congress president Rahul Gandhi Thursday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of politicising the air strikes on the Balakot terror camp in Pakistan, saying his own party had exercised restraint. Addressing a rally in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district, Gandhi continued his attack on Modi over the Rafale deal, blaming the BJP-led government for the delay in the procurement of the military aircraft. The Congress president said his party would accord the martyrs’ status to paramilitary men killed in the line of duty, bringing them on par with those from the three armed services. The recent air strikes at a major Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Pakistan had followed a terror attack in Kashmir that killed 40 paramilitary men. “When our air force carried out air strikes, we fully supported them and Congressmen did not speak anything about them for seven-eight days. But the PM himself started doing politics on it,” Gandhi said at the public meeting at Chambi. He referred to the prime minister’s statement that the outcome of the recent confrontation with Pakistan would have been better for India had the Rafale aircraft arrived. Gandhi claimed that what delayed their delivery was the new deal the Modi government negotiated for the fighter planes. He said this deal was meant to provide undue benefit of Rs 30, 000 crore to industrialist Anil Ambani, repeating a Congress allegation denied by the government. Paying homage to CRPF jawan Tilak Raj, who hailed from the same area and died during the Pulwama attack, Gandhi said personnel from paramilitary forces should be given the status of martyrs, just as those from the Army, the Navy and the Indian Air Force who die for the country. “If we come to power, we will accord the status of `shaheed’ to CRPF, BSF and other paramilitary jawans who lay down their lives for the nation,” he added. The public meeting, Gandhi’s first in Himachal Pradesh after becoming the All India Congress Committee president in 2016, was called “Parivartan” Rally”, or a rally for change. Gandhi attacked the Narendra Modi government on the issues of Goods and Services Tax (GST), demonetisation, jobs and farm loan waivers. He claimed big businessmen have benefitted from the GST but it has hurt small traders and shopkeepers. “We will provide you with a simple GST with only one slab of tax it we come to power,” he promised. Attacking the government's controversial move in 2016, Gandhi said, “Narendra Modi claimed that demonetisation was an attack on black money. If that was true, why did we see only honest people suffering in long queues?” Former chief minister Virbhadra Singh could not attend the meeting as he was busy with his MLA-son Vikramaditya Singh's marriage, party leaders said. Rahul Gandhi was presented with a rare photograph of late prime minister Indira Gandhi in a Lahauli dress. The photo was reportedly taken two months before her 1984 assassination. PTI DJI PTI ASH ASH

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