Nirmala refused query on Rafale deal: Rahul Gandhi

Congress President Rahul Gandhi addresses media regarding the alleged scam in Rafale deal during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Friday, Jan 4, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Sharpening his attack on the Rafale deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday questioned Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's silence on the offset contract awarded to Anil Ambani as part of the fighter aircraft deal.

“The defence minister spoke for two hours but did not answer the questions I asked on the Rafale deal. She did not even take the name of Anil Ambani,” Rahul said soon after Sitharaman concluded her response to the short duration discussion on the Rafale deal in the Lok Sabha.

He said, if the Congress came to power in this year's elections, a criminal investigation would be launched into the Rafale deal and the accused would be punished.

"Let me tell you that if we come to power in 2019, then there will be (an) investigation (into the Rafale deal). There will be a criminal investigation and the people responsible will be punished," Gandhi told reporters.

The Congress president said he had sought a simple 'yes or no' answer to questions on whether the Indian Air Force and Defence Ministry officers had raised objections after Prime Minister Narendra Modi unilaterally changed the Rafale deal.

“And you saw that instead of answering, the defence minister started doing drama that 'I have been insulted, I was called a liar',” Rahul said.

“The PM cannot come (to Parliament), and the chief minister of Goa is saying I have a file and I will get back at the PM. She gave a two-and-a-half hour speech and did not answer any questions,” Rahul said.

Earlier, Congress leaders released a statement with purported file notings by Defence and Law Ministry with objections to the Rafael deal.

“It is clear that the Rafale deal negotiating team raised several questions on the file but Modiji as head of the CCS threw them in the dustbin and caused a loss to the state exchequer,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters here flanked by senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge and Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Citing objections raised by the negotiating team and recorded in the Rafale files, the Congress leaders alleged that Modi raised the benchmark price of the jet deal. The government also waived the “advance and performance bank guarantee and sovereign guarantee”, they said.


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Nirmala refused query on Rafale deal: Rahul Gandhi

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