New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday expressed his desire to have a direct debate with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Rafale issue.
“I would very much like to debate one on one on the Rafale Deal with Prime Minister Modi,” Congress president said while addressing media persons here.
Rahul further endorsed the audio clip released by the Congress, purportedly showing former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in possession of the files related to controversial Rafale fighter jets deal.
“Goa’s Cabinet Minister (Vishwajit Rane) has clearly stated in the audio-tape that Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has said during a Cabinet meeting that he has information and files on Rafale and no one can disturb him. There could be more such tapes as well,” said Rahul.
“The entire Cabinet heard what Chief Minister Parrikar said and essentially the Goa Chief Minister is threatening and blackmailing the Prime Minister of India because he has information on the Rafale deal,” he said.
Rahul also claimed that he had asked Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to play the tape, but she refused the permission. “So there was no question of authenticity of the tape there. Congress has already played it,” he added.
During the media interaction, the Congress president also played clips of several parts of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s speech in the Parliament and made claims about pricing of the Rafale jet on its basis.
“In his speech Finance Minister Jaitley has asked as to from where Congress gets the figure of Rs 1,600 crore as the price of Rafale aircraft. But he himself in a parliamentary speech has said that the deal is of Rs 58,000 crore and if we divide it by 36-the number of aircraft, it gives us the figure of Rs 1,600 crore. Hence it is Jaitley who has given us the price of Rs 1,600 crore,” he said.
Reiterating Congress party’s previous stand on the Rafale issue, Rahul further said: “Our main question is that when they did this inflation of price from Rs 526 crore to Rs 1,600 crore, did Air Force object to it?”
“The then Defence Minister is giving a clear indication and has said this publically that he knows nothing about the new deal. Narendra Modi has changed procedure, Air Force objected to it. Still the price of Rafale was increased,” he said.
Gandhi scion also alleged that the country required 126 aircraft but ‘the contract was changed by the Prime Minister in order to benefit his friends.’
He also quoted the interview of Prime Minister Narendra Modi given to ANI on Tuesday and said, “One thing I found very surprising and interesting in his interview yesterday was that PM said the allegation is not against him personally. What the world is the PM living in?”
“The Prime Minister is involved in corruption and we are asking for a JPC. We are very confident that the moment there is JPC there will be two people whose names will come up– Narendra Modi and Anil Ambani. The quality and capability of the Aircraft are not at question here,” claimed the Congress president.
In past, Anil Ambani has refuted all these charges and had termed that fabricated and far from truth.
“We are clear that it is a good aircraft. The thing that is being questioned is that the Prime Minister himself has changed the contract and has helped his friend Anil Ambani steal money from the Indian exchequer,” said Gandhi.
The Rafale jet deal controversy has been on the boil over the last few months. The Congress and other opposition parties have been alleging irregularities in the high-profile deal.