Congress president Rahul Gandhi Thursday stepped up his attack at the Centre a day after Attorney General K K Venugopal told the Supreme Court that documents related to the Rafale fighter jet deal were “stolen” from the Defence Ministry.
“Is sarkar ka kaam hai gayab karna (This government’s job is to make things disappear),” the party chief said. Taking a swipe at the BJP-led government, Gandhi said: “Rafale files have disappeared like jobs for two crore youths, right price for farmers’ produce and promise to give Rs 15 lakh.”
Addressing the press, he said that while the media has been “warned of probe in Rafale deal”, there is no probe against “those involved in the scam”, and alleged that the government is manipulating institutions to save Prime Minister Modi. “The problem in India is, there is a criminal investigation only on people who oppose PM Modi.”
The Centre, represented by the Attorney General, told the Supreme Court Wednesday that important files on Rafale were “stolen from the Defence Ministry” and that an investigation into the theft is ongoing. The top court was hearing petitions seeking a review of the Supreme Court’s December 14 verdict dismissing pleas seeking a court-monitored probe into the fighter jet deal with France.
The Centre threatened to invoke the Official Secrets Act to initiate “criminal action” against two publications, which ran reports on the basis of these documents.
“Investigate the missing documents, but also investigate Narendra Modi for his actions mentioned in those missing documents,” the Congress president said.
“On one hand you (Centre) are saying documents are missing, which implies these are authentic documents. Documents clearly state that Narendra Modi conducted parallel negotiation,” he said.
On February 8, a report in The Hindu, citing a “Defence Ministry note” of November 2015, stated that the Ministry “raised strong objections to ‘parallel negotiations’ conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) with the French side” in the Rafale deal. ANI released the same note with additional notings.
“It’s a blatant case of corruption, it is clearly stated that the PM of India is carrying out a parallel negotiation. Why should there not be a criminal investigation?,” the Congress leader asked.
Reiterating his demands for a Joint Parliamentary probe into the 36 fighter jet deal, Gandhi asked, “If PM is not guilty, why doesn’t he himself agree for an investigation? Why did he refuse to form a Joint Parliamentary Committee?”
When asked about media reports questioning the veracity of claims on the number of casualties in India’s air strike in Balakot on February 26, the Congress president said to “show us what happened”.
“I won’t talk much about it (evidence of IAF strikes), but yes I read that families of some of the CRPF personnel who were martyred have raised this issue, they are saying we were hurt so please show us what happened,” he said.
On the upcoming elections scheduled to be held by May, Gandhi said alliances with other Opposition parties are “on track” but in Delhi, the Congress party has “unanimously said no to alliance”. Speculations that the Congress will ally with the ruling Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi for the Lok Sabha elections were rife until party’s Delhi head Sheila Dikshit said the Congress will go solo in the national capital.