Congress plays Goa ‘minister’ tape to claim Manohar Parrikar has Rafale files, both deny ithttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/congress-plays-goa-minister-tape-to-claim-manohar-parrikar-has-rafale-files-both-deny-it-5520829/

Congress plays Goa ‘minister’ tape to claim Manohar Parrikar has Rafale files, both deny it

Office bearers in Goa state BJP said the tape 'is bad news' though they were not sure which direction the politics would now take with 'few of the cabinet details leaked out too'.

rafale deal, rafale jet deal, manohar parrikar, rahul gandhi in Lok sabha, rafale row, supreme court, BJP, Congress, india news
Congress president Rahul Gandhi at press conference in New Delhi. (Express photo: Anil Sharma)

WITHIN an hour of his alleged conversation — where he purportedly quotes Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar saying in a Cabinet meeting that all files on Rafale were in his bedroom — with an unidentified person being made public, Goa’s Health Minister Vishwajit Rane called it a “conspiracy”. He said he was being used as a pawn by an opposition party which wanted to “just sensationalise Rafale”.

The taped conversation was released by the Congress at a press conference earlier in the day and Congress president Rahul Gandhi referred to it in Lok Sabha.

In the audio clip, a voice purportedly of Rane’s can be heard saying, “…There was a three-hour Cabinet meeting… the CM makes one very interesting statement. That I have all the information on Rafale in my bedroom… which you should actually make a story and actually you can cross check with somebody whom you are close to within the Cabinet. That means he is holding them to ransom. He said it’s in my bedroom, here only in the flat. Each and every document of Rafale is with me. Now whether he wanted somebody to go and to inform them in Delhi or what exactly, I didn’t understand.”

In a hastily called press meet, Rane called the tape “doctored” and said the attack was “planned and planted” against him, and there was never a discussion on Rafale in any of Goa’s Cabinet meetings. Claiming that the Congress was scared of him, Rane said, “I have tremendous influence in three to four constituencies.” This was the reason behind the repeated attack on him by the party which he left to join the BJP, he said.

Also read: Supreme Court satisfied conscience… Congress manufactured scam: Arun Jaitley hits back

Office bearers in Goa state BJP said the tape “is bad news” though they were not sure which direction the politics would now take with “few of the cabinet details leaked out too”.

Advertising

Parrikar also tweeted immediately, “The audio clip released by the Congress party is a desperate attempt to fabricate facts after their lies were exposed by the recent Supreme Court verdict on Rafale. No such discussion ever came up during cabinet or any other meeting.”

When contacted, Vijay Sardesai of Goa Forward Party and a Cabinet Minister said, “This is a matter between a BJP minister and a BJP Chief Minister. This is also not a local issue. We are a local party and our focus is on local state matters. Also, I am a cabinet minister. I have taken an oath and hence I cannot discuss what was said or not said in the meeting.”

Later, at the BJP press meet, Nilesh Cabral, also a Cabinet Minister in Goa, whose name is mentioned in the audio clip said, “Damage is something which we cannot ascertain (but) damage is done by the audio clip.”

Also read: ‘There may be many other tapes’: Rahul Gandhi challenges PM Modi to ‘one-on-one’ debate on Rafale deal

Rane, who visited Parrikar during the day, confirmed he had sent an email to BJP President Amit Shah. “They have stooped to such a low level to doctor an audio to create miscommunication between the cabinet and our chief minister. Manohar Parrikar has never made any kind of reference to Rafale or to any kind of document. I have asked for a criminal investigation and voice testing by a specialised agency,” Rane said.

While there are many contenders for the Chief Minister’s seat, Rane’s name was prominent after he purportedly promised to bring few MLAs into the BJP fold. Incidentally, Rane was the one who officially confirmed the medical status of Parrikar. When two Congress MLAs recently defected to the BJP, the Congress alleged that he was the one who engineered the defections. “I am being used. When two MLAs defected, my name was used again. I am going to ask Chief Minister to please rope in experts who can do a voice check on this tape,” Rane said.

Who is the election result winner in your Lok Sabha constituency? Click here to find out. Get real-time updates, news and analysis on the 2019 Lok Sabha election results only at indianexpress.com/elections | For a deep dive on the elections check out data.indianexpress.com