BJP President Amit Shah on Friday demanded that Congress President Rahul Gandhi should apologize to the nation for his “brazen lies” accusing the government and the Prime Minister of corruption in the Rafale jet deal with France and said he should also disclose the source of information for his attacks.
Addressing a press conference after the Supreme Court dismissed the petitions seeking a probe into the deal, he said truth had triumphed and Gandhi’s “lies” had no legs to stand on.
Quoting from the judgment, Shah said the court expressed satisfaction with the process followed in purchasing the aircraft and set aside the demands of the petitioners for a probe into the matter.
He said the court agreed with the government’s contention that the country was financially benefited in the deal.
“The court observed that neighboring countries’ air forces were equipped with fourth and fifth generation aircraft. So there should not be any delay (in procuring the aircraft) in the interest of the country and it should not be stopped,” he said.
“The court also said that the government of India had no role in choosing the offset partner. It (judgment) is a slap on the face of Congress leaders,” Shah said.
Questioning Rahul Gandhi’s sustained attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government, he said Gandhi had harmed the country’s security interests and the morale of the forces by trying to stop the acquisition process.
Asking who had “directed” Gandhi to launch the campaign against the Rafale deal, he asked the Congress leader to reveal the source of information.
He also asked why Gandhi did not approach the Supreme Court if he had the evidence of corruption.
“Why did you run away from the court? You should have gone there. Your B-Team went there. Who stopped Rahul Gandhi from going to Supreme Court and place evidence of corruption?”
Shah also said the process for acquisition of fighter jets was initiated in 2001 and why did the UPA government not complete it during its tenure.
“Whether commission (kickbacks) stopped it,” he said, adding the Congress governments were experts in scams and it was laughable that they were raising doubts about Modi’s integrity.
The Modi government adopted a transparent process for the jet deal by going for a government-to-government deal.
Replying to questions on Rahul Gandhi’s description of Modi as ‘chowkidaar chor hai’ (watchman is a thief), he said only thieves were scared of a vigilant watchman.
“People have not doubted Prime Minister Modi or his government,” he said.
Referring to the Congress demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the deal, Shah said first let the issue be discussed in Parliament.
“Congress should come to Parliament and debate. Disruption is not a solution. The government is ready for any length of discussion. Even for constituting a JPC, there should be a discussion. How will you decide it? Will the Congress President set up a committee? We do not do match-fixing,” he asked.
Asked about the contract given to a private company to manufacture Rafale aircraft in preference over state-run HAL, Shah said: “No Rafale aircraft will be manufactured in India -neither by the private company nor by HAL. All 36 jets will be manufactured in France.”
Asked whether Gandhi’s campaign on Rafale during the elections had harmed the BJP, he said election defeats was a different issue. “We are not bothered about profit and loss. We are bothered about the harm it caused to the nation’s security.”