Standing by his ‘chowkidar chor hai’ jibe on the Prime Minister, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, in an exclusive interview to News Nation, said had Narendra Modi not stolen in the Rafale fighter jets deal, he would have ordered an inquiry into the case in five minutes. Speaking with News Nation’s Deepak Chaurasia and Ajay Kumar, Rahul Gandhi said he challenged Modi to come for a debate of 15 minutes with me on the controversial deal.
“I apologised to the Supreme Court for attributing the ‘chowkidar chor hai’ to the verdict. I directed the remark saying the Supreme Court that chowkidar is chor. But I did not apologise for my statement that chowkidar did chori in the deal,” Gandhi said on being asked how can an inquiry be ordered in such a case when the issue is sub-judice.
“If Narendra Modi ji had not stolen in the deal, he would have ordered an inquiry into it in five minutes. But in the last three years, Narendra Modi has neither come for a debate with me because ‘Chowkidar ne chori ki hai’,” Gandhi said.
“I challenge he will have to bring a book, a note pad won’t do. And even after that, inquiry will be held and two names will come out – Narendra Modi and Anil Ambani,” he said.
Gandhi also said there will be no “witch-hunt” if the Congress or any non-BJP government comes to power at the Centre. “Inquiry will be held and culprits will be punished. Before cancelling the contract, we will have to ask defence officials. The PM is not ordering an inquiry because he knows that something wrong has been done in the deal,” Gandhi said.
The president also questioned why was the Rafale deal was given to Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence.
“Narendra Modi told the French president that the contract should be given to Anil Ambani. Modi ji said jets should not be manufactured in India. The HAL has been manufacturing jets for the last 70 years. It manufactured MiG, Jaguar, Mirage and the PM says the HAL can’t be given the contract. PM Modi tells the French president that jet worth Rs 526 crore will be bought for Rs 1,600 crore,” he said.
“The Hindu, in its report, said the defence ministry officials said in their official document that the prime minister held parallel negotiations. (Manohar) Parrikar ji said he knew only about the first contract with the HAL and has now idea about the Rs 1,600-crore deal,” he added.
On Friday, the Supreme Court reserved its verdict on petitions challenging its December 14 judgment on the Rafale fighter jet deal. The court directed the parties to file written submissions within two weeks. In a separate hearing, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also reserved the verdict on the criminal contempt plea filed against him by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi.
In its order last December, the apex court had dismissed the plea filed by Sinha, Shourie and Bhushan seeking probe into alleged irregularities in the multi-crore Rafale fighter jet purchase deal with France.