NEW DELHI: The politics of name-calling touched a new low on Monday with the BJP accusing the Congress president of being part of an international conspiracy to sabotage the Rafale jet deal so as to help his brother-in-law Robert Vadra, while Rahul Gandhi, in a veiled attack on Twitter, called Prime Minister Narendra Modi “India’s commander-in-thief”.
The Congress pilloried Modi for unilaterally announcing the deal on April 10, 2015 just two days after the then foreign secretary S Jaishankar denied it was on the table and Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault claimed on March 25 that negotiations with public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) were at an advanced stage. The BJP hit back, saying it was a conspiracy to dislodge Modi.
The Congress also slammed the Centre for ignoring HAL, which was to make 108 aircraft as per the UPA plan, and instead giving the offset benefits worth `30,000 crore to Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence. It harped on former French President Francois Hollande’s claim that his country had no choice in selecting the offset partner.
“The campaign against the Rafale deal is part of a conspiracy in connivance with foreign elements to oust Modi from power,” Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said.
“A known defence deal middleman Sanjay Bhandari had been lobbying for Robert Vadra’s firm Offset Solutions to negotiate the Rafale deal. When Dassault rejected the overtures, the UPA had cancelled the aircraft deal. The Congress has launched a misinformation campaign to spike the deal since Vadra’s firm was denied a slice of the pie in the past,” Shekhawat alleged.
Key dates 2015
Mar 25: Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault, says negotiations with HAL were at an advanced stage, adds signature stage would come very soon
Mar 28: Reliance Defence incorporated
Apr 8: Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar claims Rafale not on negotiation table during Modi’s visit to France
Apr 10: Modi, Hollande announce new intergovermental deal
Aug 31: Rahul’s telltale tweet: Globalised corruption. This #Rafale aircraft really does fly far and fast! It’s also going to drop some big bunker buster bombs in the next couple of weeks. Modi Ji please tell Anil, there is a big problem in France
THE BJP is now planning to hit the ground across the country to fight out the battle of perception against the Congress. “The Enforcement Directorate is already after Bhandari. We will put the documents in public domain against Vadra’s firm,” Shekhawat added.
The BJP also rejected the Congress’ demand for Joint Parliamentary Committee probe, saying it amounts to putting sensitive details about the fighter jet in public domain. “Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar had previously sought help of an enemy country to oust Modi,” claimed Shekhawat. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala responded by saying a frustrated Modi government was again raking up the bogey of Pakistan to deflect attention, as was done during demonetisation and the fleeing of the Punjab National Bank loan scam accused Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi.
Earlier in the day, a Congress delegation met Chief Vigilance Commissioner K V Chaudhary and urged him to probe the ‘scam of the century’ that was a threat to national security. “The government has been lying and hiding. We have demanded the CVC to take cognizance, to seize all files and documents and to register an FIR,” Congress leader Anand Sharma said.