Congress in tight spot over party motor mouths

Congress in tight spot over party motor mouths

Sidhu, a cabinet minister in the Punjab government, wanted the Centre to clarify whether the air strikes had left 300 terrorists dead.

The Congress found itself in a tight spot over party leaders raising doubts over the Balakot air strikes at a time when it had trained its guns at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP for politicising the IAF action.

Congress veteran and former defence minister A K Antony refused to comment on questions over the remarks of former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh and Punjab minister Navjyot Singh Sidhu.

“I am not getting into any controversy,” Antony said when asked to comment on Digvijaya's remarks that the reports in the international media raising doubts about the Balakot air strikes had raised questions over the credibility of the Indian government.

Sidhu, a cabinet minister in the Punjab government, wanted the Centre to clarify whether the air strikes had left 300 terrorists dead.

“What was the purpose then? Were you uprooting terrorists or trees? Was it an election gimmick,” Sidhu had said referring to reports in a section of the international media about the IAF air strikes destroying some pine trees and not terror camps.

Antony refused to take questions on the Congress leaders. At the outset, the senior Congress leader said that he was not comfortable addressing a press conference but was compelled to do so as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was spreading misinformation on the Rafale deal.

Referring to the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on Rafale, Antony rejected Modi's allegations that the fighter aircraft deal was delayed because the Congress leaders were seeking commission on the transaction.

Antony accused the NDA government led by the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of delaying the deal for four years after it was first mooted in 2000.

“They were not able to take a decision for four years, but when the UPA came, we issued the request for proposals for 126 MMRCA aircraft,” he said quoting the CAG report presented to the Parliament last month.

Ironically, the same CAG report was rejected by Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

“The CAG report is not worth the paper it is written on,” Rahul had said.