NEW DELHI: The Congress on Wednesday said Rahul Gandhi was not playing any politics over his meeting with ailing former defence minister Manohar Parrikar and the BJP leader was caught in a "catch-22 situation" over the Rafale deal.
Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi defended Rahul Gandhi after Parrikar, who is Goa Chief Minister, wrote to the Congress president accusing him of using his courtesy visit to "feed political opportunism".
"With all due respect to Manohar Parrikar ji, I think we should maintain the basic courtesies of reaching out to our opposition leaders at the time of their illness and in case Shri Rahul Gandhi who went on record to tweet for Shri Arun Jaitley's better health. So, I don't understand where politicisation comes into it," she told reporters when asked about Gandhi talking in public about his private visit to Parrikar.
The Congress spokesperson said Parrikar has often been "caught unawares" on how to respond to entire the Rafale deal.
"This is not once, twice or thrice that the then Defence Minister Shri Manohar Parrikar was caught in a catch-22 situation in which he did not know how to respond to the entire Rafale deal being signed. He did not know how to respond to a courtesy visit to France being changed to a deal making visit to France. He could not respond as to why HAL was sidelined to give priority to Reliance Defence, he could not respond to why 126 aircraft were reduced to 36 aircraft and why Transfer of Technology was taken away," she said.
Chaturvedi said on multiple occasions Parrikar has been found to be "clueless" and claimed he has gone on record to state this that he was "not aware of the new deal" being worked out.
"This is where the Congress Party is bound to ask. Isn't it his responsibility as an Indian citizen first and as a Defence Minister later, to explain to the country as to why he is being forced, compelled to not answer the questions directly asked of him in the capacity of him being the Defence Minister then," she asked.
Earlier Rahul Gandhi while addressing a youth convention at Talkatora stadium said he met Parrikar on Wednesday.
"Parrikar ji had himself said that while changing the deal, the prime minister did not ask the defence minister," he said, without making it clear whether he was referring to Wednesday's meeting or earlier remarks by Parrikar.
BJP chief Amit Shah earlier hit out at Gandhi alleging that he is "insensitive" as he was "lying" in the name of a person fighting a disease and people are "disgusted with his reckless behaviour".
"Dear Rahul Gandhi, you showed how insensitive you are, by lying in the name of a person fighting a disease. The people of India are disgusted by your reckless behaviour. In his trademark style, Manohar Parrikar ji sets the record straight," Shah said on Twitter.