‘Flogging Dead Horse’: Nirmala Rejects Rahul’s Latest Rafale Jibe
Video Editor: Mohd. Irshad Alam, Md. Ibrahim
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Congress President Rahul Gandhi engaged in a war of words on Friday, 8 February, that was sparked over allegations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the PMO’s alleged role in the Rafale deal.
Gandhi slammed Modi over his Rafale deal pricing, alleging that he was “directly involved and stole money.”
On the basis of a report published in The Hindu, Rahul said that “parallel discussions” were being conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) with the French side over Rafale deal.
“PM Narendra Modi himself robbed Air Force’s Rs 30,000 crore and gave it to Anil Ambani. We have been raising this since one year. Now, a report has come where Defence Ministry officials are also saying that the prime minister was holding parallel negotiations with France government.”Rahul Gandhi, Congress President
‘Flogging a Dead Horse’
Sitharaman dismissed the media report on the Rafale jet deal as "flogging a dead horse" and accused Gandhi and the Opposition of playing into the hands of multinational companies and vested interests.
She said that all questions on Rafale had been answered “thoroughly and transparently.”
Sitharaman also said that the newspaper should have reached out to the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, if they “wanted to bring out the truth.”
What Does The Hindu Report Say?
The Hindu’s report by senior journalist N Ram, quoting an internal Defence Ministry note said that the “parallel discussions” by the Prime Minister’s Office “weakened” the negotiating position of India in the Rafale deal.
The note was dated 24 November 2015, and was signed by the then Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar, and Deputy Secretary SK Sharma. The note was also brought to the attention of the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the report said.
The note also states that if the PMO is “not confident” about the Defence Ministry’s negotiation, “a revised modality of negotiations to be led by PMO at appropriate level may be adopted in the case.”
‘Note Had Nothing to Do With Price’
Retired IAS Officer G Mohan Kumar, who served as the defence secretary at the time of Rafale negotiations, said the note had “nothing to do with price.”
Speaking to ANI, he said:
‘PM Modi Negotiated for Anil Ambani’
Gandhi said that the report showed in “black and white” that the prime minister was involved in the Rafale deal scam. He accused PM Modi of negotiating on Anil Ambani’s behalf.
‘Do I Look Rattled to You?’
When asked if the Congress president was rattled by the corruption allegations against the members of the party, he said, it was the prime minister who was rattled.
He said that while the Modi government can question any party member, and even his brother-in-law Robert Vadra, but they wanted a JPC probe in the deal.
He also demanded the prime minister to provide answers about the pricing of Rafale.