Taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale fighter jet deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi told party workers and leaders in Kochi on Tuesday that former Defence minister and incumbent Goa CM Manohar Parrikar had stated that he has nothing to do with the “new deal orchestrated by Mr Narendra Modi”.
“Friends, ex-defence minister Mr Parrikar clearly stated that he has nothing to do with the new deal that was orchestrated by Mr Narendra Modi to benefit Anil Ambani,” Rahul said, according to PTI.
Addressing a convention of party leaders from the booth-level upward, Rahul said, “The result of this crime is that thousands of young Indians who could have got high-paid jobs in HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) will not get a job today. No defence capability is going to be built in India.”
Rahul’s remarks in Kochi came hours after he met Parrikar at the Goa Assembly complex. The Congress leader did not clarify whether the issue was discussed during his meeting with Parrikar.
Reiterating that the Congress, if voted to power, will provide a minimum income guarantee for every Indian, Rahul said, “The first thing we will do when we win the Lok Sabha election is to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament. We want to see women in positions of leadership.”
Criticising the “fundamentally flop” GST, Rahul said, “The moment we come to power in 2019, we are going to restructure the Gabbar Singh tax (GST). We will redesign the GST so that it is an asset for the country rather than a liability.”
While the Congress in Kerala has opposed the state government’s support to entry of women of all ages to Sabarimala temple, following the Supreme Court’s order, Rahul refrained from directly commenting on the contentious issue. He said the Congress respects rights of women as well as traditions of the state.
Taking on the Pinarayi Vijayan government, Rahul said it is interested only in promoting CPI(M) cadre, and the government failed to live up to the people’s expectations after the devastating floods last year. He said, “The CPI(M) and the BJP are working on dividing Kerala. They create an orgy of violence. The real issues of protection for farmers, generation of jobs and protection of women have been put on the backfoot.’’
The major chunk of Rahul’s speech, however, was targetted at the Prime Minister.
He said, “Narendra Modi is intended to divide this country into two pieces: one for the rich and the other for the poor. He was ready to forgive Rs 3.5 lakh crore (that some businessmen owed), but he is not ready to forgive even one rupee of farm loan. He diluted the rural job guarantee scheme and the food security scheme. He has destroyed the land acquisition Act.”
Pointing out that Congress governments have waived farm loans in three states where the party recently won elections, Rahul said, “We have committed that in 2019, we will have a government that will make up for all the crimes that Narendra Modi has committed against farmers over the last five years.”
Recalling that liberalisation, telecom and computer revolutions undertaken by previous Congress governments had transformed the country, Rahul said, “Modi has spent five years wasting the country’s time, telling one lie after another. He promised 2 crore jobs for the youth every year, and 450 jobs in every 24 hours, but for the last five years he has provided maximum income guarantee to 15 of his friends. If you are Anil Ambani, you are guaranteed maximum income…. Jobs can be stolen from people, and HAL can be pushed aside and Ambani can be given deal in two minutes. For last five years, people of India were watching this tamasha (drama).”
The Congress president said that over the last five years every single institution in the country have been attacked. “Four judges of Supreme Court came out and told the press that they are not allowed to work. What was the message they were trying to send? They were trying to say that Modi and (BJP president) Amit Shah were not letting them work.’’
On the more recent controversy over two senior-most CBI officers being sent on leave, Rahul said, “Why was the CBI chief removed at 1.30 at night? When the Supreme Court said the CBI chief has to be put back why did Modi have to remove him again in a couple of hours? The former president of France told the press clearly that he was told by the Indian Prime Minister to give the Rafale deal to Ambani. Why was the man who does not have any experience in aircraft-making given the deal?”
The answer, he told the meeting, is that the “PM of India is corrupt. He is protecting himself when he removed the chief of CBI and ensured that no inquiry is carried out.”
He said demonetisation had destroyed the informal sector and shopkeepers, and wiped out small industries. “The PM has the audacity to come to Kerala and say that India is ahead of China. Which world is he living in? If he looks at the phone with which he takes selfies, it would have ‘Made in China’ written on it. He has destroyed the economic backbone of the country, something the Congress and people of the country had built slowly and carefully (over the decades). He gave India the GST, which fundamentally flopped. What sort of GST is this that prevents Kerala from raising resources for reconstruction of the flood-hit state?”