New Delhi: A war of words erupted between the BJP and Congress on Wednesday over the Rafale fighter jets’ purchase issue, with Union finance minister Arun Jaitley accusing the Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi of “peddling untruths” and “carrying out a false campaign on the Rafale deal”.
Mr Gandhi has demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the issue. The Congress rejected Mr Jaitley’s contention that the government had nothing to do with the selection of partners for offset supplies.
Posing 15 questions to Mr Gandhi in his Facebook post, Mr Jaitley said that the deal the NDA government had entered into with France on April 10, 2015, for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets was on better terms than the one entered into in 2007 under the UPA regime. In 2007, French manufacturer Dassault had offered to supply 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft. Mr Jaitley questioned the Congress whether delay in decision making during its regime was based on collateral considerations like the ones witnessed in the purchase of Bofors guns.
Refusing to disclose details of the deal such as price of the aircraft due to constraints placed by the “secrecy clause” in the contract, the Union minister said that the Congress’ allegations that the NDA government had agreed to pay a higher price and was favouring a private industrialist were a “complete falsehood”
After Mr Jaitley’s post on the issue, Mr Gandhi tweeted: “Mr Jaitley, thanks for drawing the nation’s attention back to the GREAT #RAFALE ROBBERY! How about a Joint Parliam-entary Committee to sort it out? The problem is, your supreme leader is protecting his friend, so this may be inconvenient. Do check and revert in 24 hrs. We’re waiting!”
One of the questions Mr Jaitley posed to Mr Gandhi in his post was: “Can Mr 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.”
“I am asking these questions as Mr Gandhi’s misadventure is impairing national interest and I hope he and the Congress party will respond immediately,” wrote Mr Jaitley. The Union minister termed it the Congress’ “false campaign” against the Rafale deal and said that “the peddled untruth had been casting a cloud on the inter-governmental agreement and seriously compromising national security”.