Senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily on Thursday accused Indian Air Force chief BS Dhanoa of "lying", a day after the latter called the Rafale deal a "game changer" and the Supreme Court verdict on it a "very fine" judgement. He also demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s apology for having sacrificed the security of the nation by entering into the deal. Moily said the IAF chief along with the head of Dassault Aviation, the manufacturers of Rafale fighter jets, had visited public sector HAL’s Bengaluru headquarters days before the Paris agreement and found it a “competent body with necessary expertise”.
"Today, to say it is fine (the SC judgement)...I think that IAF chief is not fine....he is not fine, he is lying. He is suppressing the truth. He is a party to suppressing the truth," Moily told reporters in Hyderabad.
Later, talking to a TV news channel, Moily said, “Apology has to be given by Narendra Modi for having sacrificed the security of the nation, having sacrificed the exchequer.” He said Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who has been assailing the prime minister over the deal, need not apologise for the “bold stand” he has taken on the “scam of the century”. Instead, Gandhi should be appreciated, he said.
The BJP has been demanding an apology from Gandhi for attacking Modi over the Rafale deal even after the Supreme Court’s verdict which found no wrongdoing in it. "Even the words expressed by the Supreme Court you have heard is based on falsehood and web of lies made by the government of India," he said. Moily said Modi gave a “certificate of incompetency” to HAL.
Dhanoa had on Wednesday hailed the SC order and deprecated attempts at politicising defence purchases, suggesting that this had earlier led to the delay in the Army acquiring the Bofors gun. “I am not going to comment on the judgment but the Supreme Court has given a very fine judgment. It has also said that this plane is badly needed,” he told reporters in Jodhpur.
Hours after Moily’s accusation, the BJP hit back, saying that it "totally exposes" the opposition party feeling "shattered" by the ongoing probe into the VVIP chopper contract.
"Comments of a senior leader like Moily totally exposes the Congress as he calls the IAF chief names. It shows its desperation is complete and it is totally shattered by the speed of inquiry that the government is doing against corruption," Union minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters. He was apparently referring to the CBI probe into the purchase of VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power.