Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. (ANI/twitter)
Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday came out with all guns blazing against the Congress after the Supreme Court dismissed petitions seeking a probe into the controversial Rafale deal, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley saying “all the figures by the government are correct” and the figures by Congress president “Rahul Gandhi are false”. Jaitley also rejected the Congress’s demand for a JPC probe into the Rafale deal.
The Congress claimed the Supreme Court has vindicated its stand that the issue of "corruption" in the Rafale fighter jet agreement cannot be decided by it and challenged the Centre to constitute a JPC to probe the deal.
“Reviews of this kind can only be done by judiciary, not by a partisan body,” Jaitley said on the demand for a JPC probe.
Earlier on Friday, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from France,
Holding a press conference along with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Jaitley said: The truth has only one version and falsehood has many. That is why Mr Rahul Gandhi quoted several figures.”
“The Rafale deal has protected both security and commercial interest of India. Security interest because it increases combat ability of India, commercial interest because the final price was significantly lower both for aircraft and weaponised aircraft than what was negotiated in 2007 and 2012,”
said Arun Jaitley.
Jaitley added: “Falsehood has a very short life. In this case, it was a few months. Falsehood lowers the credibility of its creator.”
Sitharaman said the UPA wanted to buy 18 aircraft and manufacture the rest. “We bought 36 aircraft due to time lost.”
Earlier, BJP president Amit Shah described the order as a "victory of truth" and demanded an apology from Rahul Gandhi.
The Supreme Court's decision is slap on the face of those who had alleged corruption, Shah said at a press conference.
Shah also challenged the Opposition for a debate on the Rs 58,000 crore deal in Parliament and said the BJP will agree to as much time as it wants for a discussion after it reiterated its demand for a JPC probe into the matter.
Accusing Gandhi of misleading people and endangering national security by raising questions on the Rafale deal at every meeting, Shah asked him to disclose the source of information on which he had based his claims.
According to the BJP chief, never before in independent India had such an attempt was made to mislead people on the basis of "blatant lies". Gandhi, he added, had started the "politics of lies" for his momentary political gains.
Gandhi has repeatedly accused the government of playing a role in ensuring that Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence gets an offset contract, a charge denied by the businessman, the government and the French firm.
The BJP president, however, declined to comment on the reasons behind his party's defeat, saying he would do so later and wanted the focus to be on his comments on the Supreme Court judgement on the Rafale deal.
(With PTI inputs)