Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday locked horns over the Rafale deal with the former accusing the opposition party of “peddling untruth”, and the latter responding by calling it “the Great Robbery”.
Jaitley on Wednesday, posted a set of 15 questions for Rahul Gandhi in response to Congress posers on the multi-billion dollar deal on Facebook.
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The finance minister accusing the Congress of carrying out a “false campaign”, sought Rahul Gandhi’s response on questions varying from delays in finalising the jet fighter order to procedural knowledge and foreign supplier being allowed freedom to choose private partner to meet offset requirement.
Jaitley also asked if the delays on buying fighter jets during the Congress regime were based on collateral considerations like the ones witnessed in the purchase of Bofors guns.
Jaitley said that if Rahul Gandhi failed to respond, he would come up with “further specific facts” that they were “merely peddling falsehood”.
Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi rebuked Jaitley’s remarks by calling the deal “the Great Rafale Robbery” and alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was trying to protect his business friend.
Mr Jaitley, thanks for bringing the nation’s attention back to the GREAT #RAFALE ROBBERY! How about a Joint Parliamentary Committee to sort it out? Problem is, your Supreme Leader is protecting his friend, so this may be inconvenient. Do check & revert in 24 hrs. We’re waiting!— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 29, 2018
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The finance minister was quick to comment.
In a series of tweets, Jaitley stated that a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the Bofors deal had called kickbacks “winding up” charges and the whole world rejected the findings.
Let me remind you of a JPC the Congress Government appointed in 1987 on the Bofors deal. It was headed by Mr. Shankaranand. It gave a report that the kickbacks were ‘winding up’ charges. The whole world rejected the findings of that JPC. Why a JPC to satisfy your falsehood?— Arun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) August 29, 2018
“Mr. Gandhi, you have not attempted to answer my questions on the 'Rafale purchase in the interest of national security’. When no answers are given, obviously no answers could have been given by those who resort only to falsehood,” Jaitley tweeted.
“Mr. Gandhi, truth holds together, falsehood falls apart that is the fate of your Rafale falsehood,” he said in another tweet.
Jaitley on Wednesday rubbished the Congress allegations that NDA government agreed to pay a higher price and favouring a private industrialist was “complete falsehood”.
“Can Rahul Gandhi and the Congress deny that the Indian government has no contract whatsoever with any private industry in relation with the Rafale aircraft supplies? In fact, 36 of the Rafale aircraft with their Indian adaptations are going to be sent to India and there is no manufacturing of these aircraft in India,” Jaitley said in his Facebook post.
Jaitley, maintainging that the Rafale controversy was based on “complete falsehood”, said that it was expected from national political parties and their responsible leaders to keep themselves informed of the basic facts before they enter a public discourse on defence transactions.
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“Congress party’s false campaign launched on Rafale aircraft deal based on peddled untruth has been casting a cloud on the Inter-Governmental agreement and seriously compromising national security,” Jaitley said.
Jaitley said that the BJP-led NDA government is purchasing the 36 Rafale fighter jets at a 20 per cent lower price than the one negotiated by the UPA government in 2007.
“Rahul Gandhi deny that when the add-ons such as India-specific adaptations, weaponry, etc. are installed on the basic aircraft, the UPA price, which was mentioned in the 2007 L1 offer, would be at least 20% costlier than the more favourable price negotiated by the NDA,” Jaitley added.
(With PTI inputs)