Cong chief says Defence Minister parried questions, Modi should be probed for graft
Accusing Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of not addressing his specific question on the Rafale deal during the debate in the Lok Sabha, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday vowed to initiate a criminal investigation into the purchase of the fighter jets if the Congress comes to power after the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
Asserting that those found guilty of wrongdoings in the Rafale deal will be punished, Rahul demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be investigated for corruption and for weakening national security by giving the Rafale contract to “his friend” industrialist Anil Ambani.
Also attacking Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Rahul said the Minister just “ran away” after a long speech in the Lok Sabha without providing answers to his questions on the controversial fighter jet deal. He further questioned the absence of the Prime Minister in Parliament when the debate on the topic was on.
“The Defence Minister did not answer any of the questions I asked on the Rafale deal. She did not even take the name of Anil Ambani,” Rahul Gandhi told reporters outside Parliament after Sitharaman gave the Government’s reply on the Rafale fighter jet deal issue in the Lok Sabha. Rahul said he put two questions to the Minister towards the end of the debate and asked her to reply in yes or no. “I asked that after a long negotiation process, those people who participated in that negotiations — Air Force chief, Defence Minister, secretaries, Air Force officials — when the Prime Minister did a ‘bypass surgery’… Did the Air Force people object, yes or no,” Rahul said.
“And you saw that instead of answering this, the Defence Minister started doing drama that ‘I have been insulted, I was called a liar’,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Rahul said the PM should be investigated for corruption for giving the Rafale contract to Anil Ambani. The Gandhi scion cited a media report on Swedish Telecom major Ericsson filing a contempt plea in the Supreme Court against Reliance Communications chief Anil Ambani and demanding that he be detained.
“In addition to corruption, the PM should be investigated for weakening national security by giving the Rafale contract to his friend and international debt master, Anil Ambani,” Rahul said in a tweet and tagged the media report.
Speaking to the media outside Parliament ahead of the Government’s reply in the Lok Sabha over the issue, Rahul accused Narendra Modi of running away from the debate and posed a series of questions to Sitharaman.
“Let me tell you that if we come to power in 2019, then there will be (an) investigation (into the Rafale deal).
There will be a criminal investigation and the people responsible will be punished,” Rahul said.
He added that the Supreme Court had said in its judgment that inquiring into the Rafale deal is not in its jurisdiction, but nowhere did it say that an inquiry should not be held. “We and the entire Opposition want that when the Defence Minister speaks on the Prime Minister’s behalf, the questions raised by us should be answered,” the Congress chief said. Rahul said his questions were what the youngsters were asking Modi.
Saturday, 05 January 2019 | PNS | New Delhi–
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