BJP to fight perception war on Rafale

BJP to fight perception war on Rafale


To fight the Rafale row following former French President Francois Hollande's remarks, the BJP-led government is planning a perception war by highlighting the "international conspiracy" to oust Prime Minister Narendra Modi from power and depict the Congress as hand in gloves with Pakistan and China.

The offensive from the ruling BJP come as an afterthought, as it feels that its response to the claims of Hollande — that India insisted on Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence —  is not going beyond Delhi, and even there it is not getting enough traction.

The campaign plank will be a mix of an attack on Hollande, projecting a conspiracy in the latest allegations — that aim to oust Modi, Congress' alleged efforts to bring brokers back into defence deals as well as its links with Pakistan and China.

It will also try to project the Opposition as spreading slander, because it took Hollande's statement without verification, all this while claiming that they have not found a single instance of corruption under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said the government will “definitely” counter the “false propaganda by the Congress and Opposition and it would not take it lying down."

“There is a kind of international dimension to this. You (Congress president Rahul Gandhi) is quoting French president. Then you (Gandhi) make an anticipatory claim (that an explosive detail is coming out soon). These can't be coincidences,” Sitharaman told reporters referring to Gandhi's tweet in late August to anticipate a “bomb blast” on Rafale deal soon, and then Hollande making claims.

While Sitharaman used “international dimension,” Union Minister Gajendra Shekhawat did not shy away from using “international conspiracy” in the allegations and referred to Modi's campaign rhetoric during Gujarat Assembly elections when he alleged that the Congress had conspired with Pakistan to influence the results.

“We will definitely answer all questions. We will make all the facts available. There is desperation in the Congress as they want to show the government to be blemished in corruption. In last over four years, they have not found even one,” Sitharaman said.

Separately, sources said the BJP will highlight “inconsistencies” in Hollande's “misleading” statements and are likely to point out that he was facing investigations in his country.

The BJP is getting ready to breathe fire on the Congress and the Gandhi family. As part of the plan, the BJP fielded Shekhawat in a press conference to target Robert Vadra, Gandhi's brother-in-law who is facing allegations of corruption, when he claimed that Congress was trying to derail the Rafale deal as his “arms dealer-friend” Sanjay Bhandari did not get the offset business.

The BJP will also rake up Pakistan and China into the debate, saying the Congress move is only helping the neighbours while targeting the morale of Indian military. BJP leaders have started referring to Congress leader Manishankar Aiyar hosting a dinner for Pakistani leaders, in which former vice president Hamid Ansari and former prime minister were present.

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