The Congress and the BJP continued to exchange barbs over the Rafale aircraft deal on Thursday with Rahul Gandhi accusing the prime minister of allegedly changing the ‘entire deal’ to benefit a businessman, a charge debunked by the ruling party.
The Congress vice-president also asked why no questions were posed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on BJP president Amit Shah’s son Jay, whose company his party alleged has witnessed a quantum jump in turnover since the Modi government came to power.
“You ask me so many questions and I answer all of them. I want to ask you, why don’t you question Prime Minister Modi on the Rafale deal. Why don’t you ask about Amit Shah’s son? Why don’t you question the prime minister who changed the entire Rafale deal to help a businessman?” he asked.
Responding to Gandhi, senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Congress is reminded of its rule when it rakes up such an issue.
“They are finding it difficult to accept that there has been no case of corruption in the three-year rule of the Narendra Modi government,” Prasad, who was briefing reporters on cabinet decisions, said when asked about allegations levelled by Gandhi.
The Rafale deal was the focus of debate earlier this week as well when the Congress accused the government of compromising national interest and security while promoting “crony capitalism” and causing a loss to the public exchequer.
Congress’ communications department head Randeep Surjewala alleged that the government neglected the interests of public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
He also alleged that Dassault Aviation, the French manufacturer of Rafale aircraft, refused to transfer technology to it and instead entered into an agreement with Reliance Defence.
The BJP dismissed the allegation, claiming it was intended to “divert attention” as party bigwigs faced the prospect of being questioned in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scandal.
In a statement, Reliance Defence Limited dubbed the Congress’ allegations as ‘baseless and unfounded’.
It said its subsidiary formed a joint venture, Dassault Reliance Aerospace, after a bilateral agreement between two private companies and “the Indian government has no role to play in this”.
The company said government policy of June 24, 2016 allows for 49 per cent FDI in the defence sector under the automatic route without any prior approval.
Surjewala had also alleged that the aircraft was being purchased at much higher rates than what was decided after the completion of the tender process under the previous UPA government.