Don't use me for petty political gains: Parrikar to RG

Don't use me for petty political gains: Parrikar to RG

Ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. File photo

Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s remarks that Manohar Parrikar said he had nothing to do with the new Rafale deal hours after meeting him on Tuesday set off a political storm — also an epistolary war with both leaders exchanging letters on the issue.

As an angry Goa Chief Minister Parrikar shot off a letter to Rahul saying he was “disgusted” at his reckless behaviour and accused him of using a visit to an ailing person to “feed political opportunism”, the Congress chief in a Facebook post insisted that he has “not shared any details” of his conversation with him when they met in Goa on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, Rahul reminded the ailing chief minister that the latter had said in the past that he had “no idea about the new deal engineered by the PM” on Rafale and that these remarks were very much in public domain.

The row started as Rahul, who met Parrikar in Panaji, hours later said while addressing Congress booth level workers in Kochi on Tuesday evening that Parrikar had said he had nothing to do with the Rafale fighter jet deal.

As it went viral on media creating an impression that Parrikar had spoken to Rahul about Rafale deal, the Goa chief minister shot off an angry letter to the Congress president.

“I feel let down that you have used this visit for your petty political gains. In the five minutes you spent with me, neither did you mention anything about Rafale, nor did we discuss anything related to it. Paying a courtesy visit and then stooping so low as to make a false statement for petty political gain has raised in my mind questions about the sincerity and purpose of your visit,” Parrikar said in the letter on Wednesday.

Replying, Rahul, in his Facebook post, told the Goa CM, “I have not shared any details of my conversation with you when we met in Goa yesterday. In my two speeches since we met, I have referred to what is already in the public domain.”

Rahul insisted that it is a fact that in April 2015, while Parrikar was inaugurating a fish market in Goa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Rafale deal in France with the then French president, Francois Hollande.

“It is also a fact that you clearly stated to the press that you had no idea about the new deal engineered by the PM. This has been widely reported in all sections of the media. Again, it is a fact that there is an audio recording of your own Cabinet colleague in Goa, claiming you told ministers in a Cabinet meeting that you have the Rafale papers in your bedroom implying that you have power over PM Modi and his cronies,” Rahul said.

Taking a swipe, the Congress president also said that he empathises with Parrikar’s situation and understands the “immense pressure” the latter was under after their meeting.

“Pressure that has forced you to take the highly unusual step of demonstrating your loyalty to the PM and his cronies by attacking me in this uncharacteristic manner,” he pointed out.

Addressing Congress booth level workers in Kochi, Rahul had earlier said “Friends, the ex-defence minister Mr Parrikar clearly stated that he has nothing to do with the new deal that was orchestrated by Mr Narendra Modi to benefit Anil Ambani.”

Anil Ambani and his company have repeatedly denied the charges.

Rahul, however, reiterated his remarks at the conclusion of the Yuva Kranti Yatra of the Indian Youth Congress at the Talkaotra Stadium here on Wednesday as well. He said he had met Parrikar in Panaji on Tuesday.

“Parrikar ji had himself said that while changing the deal, the prime minister did not ask the defence minister,” the Congress president said, leaving a shroud of ambiguity on whether the remarks were made during the meeting on Tuesday.

BJP President Amit Shah hit out at Rahul by dubbing him an “insensitive” person. “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,” Shah said on Twitter.

The Congress hit back, saying it was Parrikar’s responsibility to answer questions directly asked of him on the Rafale deal. After Parrikar’s letter, Rahul told the Goa CM in the Facebook post, “I am disturbed to hear about a letter which you have supposedly written to me, but instead leaked to the press before I have had a chance to read it.” He termed the controversy over his visit to Parrikar “unfortunate.”