Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday launched the party’s poll campaign in Rajasthan with a massive rally in the state capital where he launched a vitriolic attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale aircraft deal.
Addressing a crowd at Jaipur’s Ramlila grounds, Rahul said: “When the issue of Rafale aircraft (deal) is raised in the Parliament,…when he (Modi) is asked about corruption, he doesn’t even have a minute for it (the issues) in an hour-and-a-half-long speech.”
Directly accusing Modi of corruption in the deal for the French fighter planes, he said the Prime Minister had “favoured” his businessman “friend” Anil Ambani by getting him the “contract”.
“During the UPA government, we had signed a contract for 126 airplanes at Rs 520 crore each with Dassault (an international French aircraft manufacturer) and public sector company HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)…to make these airplanes. But Narendra Modi came and went to France straightaway. With him was Anil Ambani…(who) has a debt of Rs 45,000 crore and has never made a single airplane in his life and hasn’t worked in defence. He has only one qualification, which is (he is) Modi ji’s friend, there is no other qualification. And the company which gets the contract had been set up just seven days earlier,” he said, adding that the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was also kept in the dark about the deal.
“I said the same thing before PM Modi in Parliament. He did hear me, but when I was speaking, I was looking at him in the eye, but his eyes kept wavering and never met mine. Because your Prime Minister has indulged in corruption in Rafale, and it will be clear to all Indians with time,” he said.
Ambani has already rejected Rahul’s allegations and emphasised that the government had no role in the Rafale-manufacturing French firm Dassault picking up his company as a local partner.
During his maiden visit to Rajasthan after becoming the Congress president, Rahul also targetted the PM for not keeping promises. “The PM read a list before India that he will credit each bank account with Rs 15 lakh, (provide) jobs to two crore youths annually, fair price for farmers, (and) women safety…”, but he hasn’t been able to fulfill any of these.
He said that in 24 hours, the China creates 50,000 new jobs, but that the Modi government creates only 450 new jobs daily across India. He questioned why Rs 2,30,000 crore could be “written off” as bad loans to 15 or 20 big industrialists, but the government could not help debt-ridden farmers.
Rahul also assured party workers that there will be no “parachute” candidates for the assembly polls.