New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday dropped a bombshell in the Rafale jet deal releasing a purported audio clip of a Goa minister speaking about Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s alleged claim of a file on the contract “lying in his bedroom”, sparking emphatic denials from the Centre and the Goa government.
Sparks flew between the Congress and the Centre with the Rahul Gandhi making an attempt in the Lok Sabha to play the unverified audio tape purportedly of the minister Vishwajit Rane telling an unidentified person regarding the alleged claim by Parrikar.
Step-ping up attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale issue, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday used a purported audio clip to allege that Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is “blackmailing” Modi with a file on the `58,000 crore jet deal “lying in his bedroom”.
Citing an audio clip of a conversation purportedly of Goa minister Vishwajit Rane, Gandhi said he can be heard clearly as saying that Mr Parrikar told his cabinet during a meeting that all documents relating to the Rafale deal were with him.
Asserting that the audio was authentic, Gandhi indicated there may be more such tapes and dismissed denials by Mr Parrikar and his minister.
Demanding answers from the prime minister on Mr Parrikar’s purported claim, Gandhi asked if this was the reason why a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe was not being ordered.
He said the entire country wants Modi to answer these questions.
Addressing a press conference hours after he spoke on the issue in Lok Sabha, Mr Gandhi also dared Modi to have a one-on-one debate of just 20 minutes on the Rafale matter.
“The Goa minister is saying clearly that Parrikar ji said in a cabinet meeting that he has a complete file on Rafale deal with all details and therefore, he can’t be disturbed. There may be other such audio tapes,” said the Congress chief.
The Congress along with other opposition parties are demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committ-ee to probe the `58,000 crore deal.
“What Mr Parrikar is doing is threatening the Prime Minister and blackmailing him in a way. We have been raising this for a long time. Question is what information is there in Parrikar’s bedroom and what files are there and what could be the impact on Narendra Modi,” Mr Gandhi alleged.
He also asked who raised the price of Rafale aircraft from `526 crore to `1,600 crore.
He also attacked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and alleged there were inconsistencies in the statements being made by him and others in the government.
Mr Jaitley has himself said this is a `58000 crore deal and if we divide it by 36, it will be `1600 crore. That’s how the figure of `526 crore (for price of one aircraft) comes. It is not our (Congress’s) number but yours (the government’s),” Mr Gandhi said.
He also said the prime minister needs to answer what objections were raised by the IAF or by the defence ministry, if there were any.
“Now Mr Parrikar says all details are in his bedroom. Truth can’t be kept hidden The more you try to hide the truth, new facts will come out,” Mr Gandhi said.
Attacking the prime minister, Mr Gandhi said, “The person who went to France with all pomp and show, he can’t reply and stand in Parliament, but it is finance minister who is being made to reply.”
Repeating his allegation that “chowkidar chor hai”, Mr Gandhi said a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe would throw up two names — Anil Ambani and Narendra Modi.