Underlining that the Supreme Court had already satisfied its “conscience” on the Rafale matter and there was, therefore, no need for a JPC probe into the deal, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Wednesday hit back at Rahul Gandhi, saying the Congress president had a “legacy of speaking falsehood” and “the family understood the arithmetic of money better than the equation of national security”.
Taking a swipe at Gandhi over his understanding of the fighter deal, Jaitley said: “Rahul Gandhi ki padhai ABC se shuru karni padegi (His education has to begin with ABC).” He rejected demands for a JPC probe into the deal and said all issues had been dealt with by the Supreme Court.
Listing alleged defence scams during Congress rule, he said these very “conspirators” had the “audacity” to target the Modi government. He said Gandhi would have played in the lap of ‘Q’, an apparent reference to Bofors scandal accused Ottavio Quattrocchi. He also mentioned the recent disclosure, allegedly made by AgustaWestland deal accused Christian Michel, and terms like “Mrs G” and “the Italian lady” and “her son”.
“It is a tragedy that the grand old party which was headed by legends in the past is now headed by a gentleman who doesn’t have basic understanding of combat aircraft,” he said. The Congress with “its hands already soaked in corruption” decided to “manufacture” a scam to defame the Modi government, he said.
Jaitley said JPCs had been historically unsuccessful in conducting fair investigations. “In JPCs, when it comes to investigations, we get divided on party lines… what happened in Bofors… The JPC on Bofors said, ‘These are not kickbacks… these are just winding-up charges’… The JPC whitewashed the entire corruption.”
He said the Supreme Court had already satisfied its “conscience” on the Rafale issue. “The SC first said it did not want to touch upon the pricing issue. But later, to satisfy itself, it sought details in sealed cover. After examining everything, it was satisfied and decided there was no need to interfere. The SC’s conscience was satiated, but your political goals are not,” he said.
Jaitley said when the Congress demanded a second discussion on Rafale, he thought the party would come with something new. “But it was disappointing. All points raised by you have been belied by the SC… There are some people who have a natural dislike for truth. Every word spoken for the last six months on this subject, including in this House (by them) are false… He has a legacy of speaking falsehood,” Jaitley said.
He said the country needed Rafale because during the Kargil war, forces were forced to fire from 155 mm guns. “If we had Rafale, we would have targeted the enemy through missiles from miles away. That is why the IAF demanded it in 2001… but till 2014, you could not clear it… UPA has played with the security of the nation,” he said.
He rejected charges that procedure was not followed in the Rafale deal. “As many as 74 meetings were held (between the committees concerned) before the deal was sealed in 2016,” he said.
He said when the Prime Minister met then French President Francois Hollande, he said “we will buy Rafale on better terms and conditions” than the earlier deal. He maintained that the ‘bare aircraft’ was nine per cent cheaper than the one negotiated by the UPA and the weaponised version was 20 per cent cheaper. He said the price of ‘bare aircraft’ had been revealed but the price of the weaponised version could not be disclosed as it would help India’s enemies.
He said the offset share of the company named (Anil Ambani’s firm) had been massively inflated by Rahul Gandhi and that the company would not get more than Rs 800 crore of business.
Listing alleged defence scams during Congress rule, Jaitley quoted from a James Bond movie which, he said, the Congress president would have seen. “In the movie, Bond says if it happens for the first time, then it is happenstance, if it happens twice, it is coincidence, and if it is thrice, then it is conspiracy. Congress president is doing the same,” he said.
At this, Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress said Jaitley was wrongly quoting Bond, saying the film’s hero had said that if it happens for the third time, then it is enemy action, and not conspiracy. “Jaitley is losing his touch and his memory is failing him,” Roy said.
— With PTI