Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar Wednesday castigated Congress president Rahul Gandhi for using their brief meeting on Tuesday for ‘petty political gains’ and spreading misinformation in his name over the Rafale issue. Gandhi had paid Parrikar a brief, informal visit to enquire about his health and later said that the Goa CM admitted his disengagement with the ‘new Rafale deal’ forged under the NDA government which the Congress is calling as a scam.
In a letter written to Gandhi, Parrikar, who is suffering from a pancreatic ailment, said that he welcomed Gandhi’s gesture in the spirit of the Indian political tradition to rise above the bipartisan considerations and wish even opponents a quick recovery from any ailments. However, Gandhi used the visit to an ailing person to feed political opportunism, Parrikar said.
“It is reported in the media today that you have said quoting me that I was nowhere in the process of procuring Rafale nor did I have any information then about it. I feel let down that you have used this visit for your petty political gains. In the five minutes you spent with me, neither did you mention anything about Rafale, nor did we discuss anything about/related to it. Nothing whatsoever about Rafale was even mentioned in your meeting with me.”
“Paying a courtesy visit and then stooping so low as to make a false statement for petty political gains have raised, in my mind, questions about the sincerity and purpose of your visit,” he added.
Stating that there were no irregularities in the Rafale deal, Parrikar said the fighter aircrafts were procured following all stated procedures keeping national security as top priority. “The Inter Government Agreement (IGA) and the procurement of Rafale are as per the Defence Procurement Procedure. I have said this before and I wish to reiterate it again in today’s context too,” Parrikar said in the letter.
The Goa CM also said that despite suffering from a life-threatening illness, he would continue to remain in the service of the people of Goa and India.
Meanwhile, reiterating his rhetoric from yesterday, Rahul Gandhi Wednesday said, “Ek taraf Parrikar ji cabinet meeting mein kehte hain ki mere paas Rafale hawai jahaz ki file padi hui hai, mujhe Goa se koi nahi hata sakta. Unka mantri journalist se telephone pe baat karta hai. Modi ji Parrikar ki khush karne ki koshish karte hain (One one side, Parrikar says in cabinet meeting that he has the files on Rafale deal, no one can remove me from Goa. His minister talks on telephone to a journalist. Modiji tries to appease Parrikar).”
Gandhi, after the brief meeting with Parrikar on Tuesday, had said at a youth convention in Kerala that the former defence minister had personally told him he was not consulted when PM Modi changed the Rafale deal. Referring to the “Goa audio tapes” released by a Congress legislator, Gandhi alleged Parrikar is in possession of “explosive Rafale secrets” and those files gave Parrikar an edge over Prime Minister Narendra Modi.