After engaging in a war of words with the BJP over the price of the Rafale fighter jets inside the Parliament, the Congress has now decided to take the debate to the streets. State Congress president and MP Ashok Chavan announced on Thursday that the party will hold a public protest on the issue in Mumbai on Monday. Senior leaders said the party high command plans similar protests in major cities across the country.
Toeing the party’s line in the Parliament, Chavan said: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had willfully misled the nation during the debate in the Parliament.” During the recent no-confidence motion debate, Sitharaman had said that the government could not reveal the commercial cost of the jets because of a clause in the Rafale agreement that India and France had signed in 2008.
The Congress’ stand has been that the confidentiality clause of the deal is restricted only to classified information and not to the purchase and the acquisition aspects of the deal. “In 2012, the Congress had agreed for a payment of Rs 526 crore for the purchase of one fighter jet. The Modi government, on the other hand, will be paying Rs 1,670 crore per jet, which is three times higher. They are giving Rs 41,000 crore more. There is corruption in the deal,” said Chavan.
He also repeated party national president Rahul Gandhi’s allegations regarding the involvement of the Anil
Ambani-led Reliance Group in the deal. Ambani has refuted these allegations in a letter to Rahul. Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam, meanwhile, labelled the entire deal as a Rs 41,205 crore scam and questioned Reliance group’s expertise in the sector.