Congress chief Rahul Gandhi demanded a JPC in the Rafale combat jet deal during Winter Session proceedings of the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. Gandhi opened the Rafale debate in the Lower house and said that a JPC must be formed to look into the multi-billion combat jet deal. Gandhi tried to play the Rafale tapes, which was rejected by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. She asked Gandhi if he was in position to authenticate the tape. She said that if he plays the tape, he will have to take the responsibility. Gandhi replied in negative and did not play the tapes. He raised the concerns over the Rafale demands and questioned the Modi government over the change in the number of fighter jets. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley replied on behalf of the Modi government.
Countering Gandhi over Rafale charges, Jaitley said that, “When he (Rahul) was a young man, was he playing in the lap of one Q whose name cropped up in the Bofors case.” On JPC demand, Jaitley said no House Panel can go against the Supreme Court verdict. Jaitley countered Gandhi and said that, “If the fingers point at you in AugustaWestland, National Herald and Bofors, then it is a bit too much. Today, they have the audacity to raise an allegation against us.”
On Tuesday, PM Modi in hist first interview of 2019 had said that. “In Parliament, I have spoken elaborately on this (Rafale) and whichever public forum I got, I spoke about this. The matter has been cleared even by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court scrutinised it threadbare. The French President has spoken. ..The least they should do, the questions you are asking me, media should have the courage to ask where is the evidence for these allegations? Don’t throw muck and run away.... They are not able to give any real evidence, just keep talking.”
“Unko yeh bolne ki beemari hai toh mujhe kya baar baar usi me ulajna chahiye kya? (If they have this habit of raising this constantly should I also get embroiled in it) There should be debate in the country, why controversies have been created over defence deals since Independence and our forces weakened. Who is doing it? What is the reason? Also, what is the need for middlemen in the defence deals? Can’t defence deal not be done without middlemen? Had Make in India been initiated 70 years back, the malai khane wala raasta from outside would have been closed.”
“My crime is that I am trying to Make In India. My crime is that whatever our defence forces need, that should be made in India, so that dealings outside the country end. I am trying to get technology transfer.
Those people who want to weaken the Army are levelling allegations. Should I worry that they are making personal attacks on me, or whether my country’s needs should be met? I decided that whatever abuses are hurled at me, whatever allegations are levelled against me, I will continue on the path of honesty and give primacy to the country’s security. I won’t leave my Army jawans to their fate. Whatever be their requirement, I will expedite the procurement processes. I will do it even if false allegations are levelled me.”