FORMER UNION minister and senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily on Wednesday demanded that the government issue a white paper on the Rafale deal and Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologise for casting “aspersions on the behaviour of Mahatma Gandhi”. He was initiating the discussion on the Union Budget in the Lok Sabha.
Moily dubbed the Rafale aircraft deal “the biggest scam” of the Modi government and said the Prime Minister was answerable to the people on the issue. There was “a complete non-transparency in the Rafale deal, non-disclosure of purchase price of these aircraft, and a violation of mandatory provision of defence procurement procedure”.
He said, “Tragically, the Defence Minister (Nirmala Sitharaman) has finally refused to disclose the purchase price (of the aircraft) in Parliament. What does it say?… the deal has left more questions than answers. Time for the Prime Minister to answer the questions to the people of this country in Parliament.”
He said during the UPA rule, the price negotiation was on Rs 586.1 crore per aircraft, but the price negotiated by the present government was Rs 1,570.8 crore as per the current exchange rate. “Who is responsible for the loss to the exchequer?”, he asked, alleging the government was “playing with the security of the nation”. He said, “They (the government) are not interested in (the appointment of) Lokpal because they know this deal would be the first matter that will go to the ombudsman.”
He demanded an apology from the Prime Minister over his claim that Sardal Patel was ignored for prime ministership despite the fact that the majority of Congress units had backed him over Jawaharlal Nehru. Thus, he felt, Modi had cast an aspersion on Mahatma Gandhi.
He also claimed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had not been allowed to function independently to give a better Budget.
Most BJP members, prompted by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar and party chief whip Rakesh Singh, got up to disrupt Moily’s speech.
Ananth Kumar said the BJP members were agitated following slogan-shouting by the Congress during the Prime Minister’s speech.