Debate Rafale deal, Rahul dares PM

Rahul Gandhi speaks at the Janadhwani rally in Bidar on Monday. DH Photo

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a public debate on the controversial Rafale deal, intensifying the party’s campaign ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

“If you (Modi) have the guts and the 56-inch chest, I challenge you for a debate on the Rafale deal,” Gandhi told a rally here. “But Modi won’t be able to answer even for a second because he has stolen from the country.”

Gandhi was addressing the Janadhwani (voice of the people) rally at the Nehru playground in Bidar city, which formally marked the start of the state Congress’ campaign for the Lok Sabha elections.

The alleged corruption in the Rafale deal has become of one Congress’ main agendas going into the Lok Sabha elections.

“The UPA had given the Rafale deal to HAL in Bengaluru, which has been making aircraft for 70 years. The deal also had the transfer of technology that would’ve given jobs to lakhs of aeronautical engineers. Our contract fixed Rs ₹526 crore for one aircraft. But Modi went to Paris, changed the contract and announced that India would buy 36 aircraft at Rs ₹1,600 crore each. Is this what the chaukidaar (security guard) does,” Gandhi asked.

He alleged that Modi gave the Rafale deal to “his friend Anil Ambani”.

He said Ambani’s company was born 10 days before the contract went to him. “Anil Ambani has never built an aircraft in his life,” Gandhi said.

Gandhi censured Modi for evading the Rafale issue during the recent no-confidence motion in Parliament. “I will also repeat what I said in Parkiament — Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman lied to India’s youth that India and France had a secrecy pact that did not permit revealing the price of each aircraft. But when I met the French president and asked him, he told me there was no such secrecy pact,” he said.

Gandhi then turned to the issue of job creation. “At a recent innovation conference, Modi’s strategy for employment was to point out how a dhabawala lay a pipe in a drain and drew gas from there. So, he wants you to cook pakodas, but won’t give you gas,” he said.

The Congress president gave a clarion call to party workers. “I want you to tell every person in Karnataka about the Rafale deal.”

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