The debate on the Rafale deal in Parliament has been disgraceful. The lowest moment came when Congress MPs started throwing paper aeroplanes at the treasury benches while the Finance Minister was speaking. The Speaker, in the tones of a schoolteacher, stood up and said, “Did you not fly enough paper planes when you were children? Are you not adults now?” She should have been less indulgent and ordered them removed physically from the House for reducing debate in the Lok Sabha to the level of a ridiculous farce.
The Congress president then went on to hold a press conference to declare that the Prime Minister had run away from the debate. I am ready to debate him, he announced grandly, but he is too scared to face the House. It is the Prime Minister’s prerogative to decide which debate he wishes to participate in. It is certainly not the place of a man to order the prime minister around who has so few seats in the Lok Sabha. He is not even officially leader of the Opposition. But, ever since Rahul Gandhi managed to win three vital Hindi heartland states last month, he has begun to fly high without noticing that he is on a paper aeroplane.
There is no sign yet that he is going to become India’s prime minister this year. The media has fooled him with a false narrative. He has been on the cover of important political magazines as Modi’s ‘only challenger’. Eminent political commentators have started writing paeans of praise to his ‘great family and his great heritage’. It is contemptible political analysis but there is something about our Imperial Dynasty that makes fine journalists reduce themselves to fawning sycophants.
So the Congress president, drunk with the exhilaration of flying high for the first time in his political career, insulted a woman journalist who got the first interview that the Prime Minister has given this year. Smita Prakash asked Narendra Modi some very difficult questions, but in the eyes of Rahul Gandhi, she was ‘pliable’.
Meanwhile, at his numerous belligerent and often incoherent press conferences he continues to behave as if the Rafale deal is going to bring Modi down, just as Bofors once brought his Daddy down. He forgets that even though he repeats ‘desh ka chowkidar chor hai’ every time he is in public there is no hint that ordinary Indian voters have begun to perceive Modi as corrupt.
The difference between Rafale and Bofors is that in the case of Bofors it has still not been explained why Bofors bribe money was traced to the numbered Swiss accounts of Ottavio and Maria Quattrocchi. The only reason that makes sense is that they helped Bofors sell their guns to a prime minister whose wife was one of their closest friends. They holidayed together, Sonia Gandhi’s parents stayed with the Quattrocchis when they came to Delhi and two very pliant Congress prime ministers helped the Quattrocchis flee. Nothing like this has happened in the Rafale deal. When Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal banged on about ‘Ambani-Adani’ in the 2014 election campaign, the Ambani they were talking about was the other one. In any case, to charge the Prime Minister with personally going to Paris and insisting that Dassault give Anil Ambani special favours is irresponsible. It actually demeans India. If there is proof of his intervention, produce it first.
Last week, at his press conference, the Congress president said once more that Modi had ‘stolen’ Rs 30,000 crore from young Indians and farmers and given it to his ‘friend Anil Ambani’. It has been explained more than once by BJP ministers and spokesmen that Ambani’s company is among 72 Indian companies chosen to participate in the production of Rafale fighter jets when they start being produced here. It has been explained that this was done as part of a new policy to use the private sector to take India towards self-sufficiency in defence production. Public sector companies have failed abysmally to do this.
The facts do not seem to matter to the Congress president. Nor does it seem to matter to him that the Indian Air Force has needed a new generation of fighter aircraft for decades. The reckless charges that he now makes against the Prime Minister daily will certainly ensure that it will be a few more decades before these fighters come. Having said this, may I add that I believe it is time for the Prime Minister to answer the charges of corruption and theft that are now being thrown at him every day. His ministers have done a good job in Parliament, but this is something that really needs the Prime Minister’s intervention because the charges are directed at him personally.
The stupidest lies told over and over again can begin to sound like the truth. So please speak Mr Modi.