BJP terms ruling ‘victory of truth’ demands apology, Rahul seeks JPC.
New Delhi: A full-scale verbal duel broke out between the BJP and Congress on Thursday over the Supreme Court's verdict in the Rafale case with Union home minister Amit Shah hailing the ruling as “victory of truth” and demanding an apology from Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, who in turn sought a JPC as well as a probe into the multi-billion aircraft deal, saying Justice K.M. Joseph has left open a “huge door” for investigation.
Soon after the top court dismissed pleas seeking a review of its earlier order which had quashed demand for a probe in the fighter aircraft deal, the BJP fielded its top ministers and leaders to launch an all-out attack on the Congress and Mr Gandhi, evoking a sharp reaction from the Opposition party, which claimed that the judgment is not a clean chit for the government.
The Congress had used Modi government’s purchase of 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation for the IAF at a cost of `59,000 crore as one of the major issues in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
While Mr Shah asserted that the decision is a befitting reply to those leaders and parties who rely on “malicious and baseless campaigns”, BJP working president J.P. Nadda said Mr Gandhi tried to “mislead the nation from road to Parliament”. Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned if he raised the issue at the behest of the French firm's rivals.
In Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, defence minister Rajnath Singh said the allegations of corruption in the Rafale deal were aimed at maligning Mr Modi's image of a clean and honest leader and demanded an apology from the Congress.
“The allegation of corruption in Rafale deal was nothing but an attempt to malign the clean and honest image of Prime Minister Modi and his government. The people of India will not forgive the Congress for their slanderous campaign and calumny,” he said.
Countering BJP narrative, Mr Gandhi, tweeted, “Justice Joseph of the Supreme Court has opened a huge door into investigation of the RAFALE scam. An investigation must now begin in full earnest. A Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) must also be set up to probe this scam.”
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala claimed that the Supreme Court judgment has paved way for a comprehensive criminal investigation into Rafale “scam” but the BJP government was “misleading” the country on the impact of the verdict.
The judgment is not a clean chit, but paves way for full investigation, he said, and asked the government if it had the courage to order an independent probe.
Defence minister said that purchase of Rafale jets was done in a completely transparent manner, keeping in mind the urgency to update and upgrade India’s defence preparedness. “The issues pertaining to defence preparedness and national security should never be politicised. The allegations made by certain political parties and their leaders in Rafale jet purchase were extremely unfortunate, unwarranted and laced with malicious intent,” said Mr Singh.
He said that the verdict has rightly cautioned “such politicians to be careful while making wild allegations.”
Former IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal (retd) B S Dhanoa said Supreme Court's verdict will have positive impact on overall military procurement. “It is a welcome verdict, vindicating the government's position on the issue. We are happy that finally the controversy is buried,” he said. Mr Dhanoa said he had defended the deal on merit and considering the requirement of the Indian Air Force, referring to criticism in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls that he was making political comments about the procurement.
“It is a good verdict for the armed forces,” he said.
Home Minister Amit Shah said that the Supreme Court verdict on the Rafale deal is a befitting reply to the Congress and its leaders who carried out a “malicious and baseless” campaign against the BJP government. Mr Shah said the judgement of the apex court has proved that the disruption of Parliament over the Rafale fighter aircraft deal was a “sham”. “After today's rebuke from SC, Congress and its leader, for whom politics is above national interest must apologise to the nation,” he said.
BJP working president J P Nadda said Rahul Gandhi tried to “mislead the nation from road to Parliament” and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned if he raised the issue at the behest of the French firm's rivals.
Mr Prasad noted that the court let off Mr Gandhi because he had apologised to it for wrongly attributing some strongly-worded criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to it and asked if the Congress leader does not owe a similar apology to the nation for misleading people.
Mr Prasad said Gandhi stooped to the “shameful” extent of misquoting the top court deliberately and went on to “lie” in Parliament and even wrongly quoted French president Emmanuel Macron and his predecessor Francois Hollande on India's fighter aircraft deal with the country. “Satyamev jayate. The order is a victory of truth, a victory of national security and also a recognition of the honest decision making process of the
Narendra Modi government,” he said. Asked that former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was also let off by a court order in the Bofors case, Prasad said that was a “highly questionable” order of the Delhi High Court when the Congress government at the Centre did not challenge.