In the back-and-forth over the Rafale jet deal, Rahul Gandhi today posted a tart reminder to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with six hours left in his 24-hour deadline to set up an all-party lawmakers’ panel.
Rahul Gandhi had announced the 24-hour challenge in response to Arun Jaitley’s 15 questions for the Congress in a Facebook post accusing Rahul Gandhi of “peddling untruth” on the Rafale fighter jet deal.
Last evening, the Congress president had dared Mr Jaitley to call a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into what he called the “great Rafale robbery”. He said he would wait for a response for 24 hours.
The Congress president, in his tweet, also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Anil Ambani, without naming the Reliance Group chairman. He accused PM Modi of “protecting his friend”.
Later, BJP president Amit Shah joined in the sparring, describing JPC as “Jhoothi Party Congress” and accusing Rahul Gandhi of pushing “lies” to fool the nation. “But the nation’s IQ is higher than yours!” he tweeted.
At the centre of this political row is the deal for 36 Rafale jets from France’s Dassault Aviation. The Congress alleges wrongdoings ranging from the selection of a private firm and cost overruns to lack of transparency in releasing finer details of the deal.
Rahul Gandhi alleges that the price of the jets is higher than what was negotiated by the previous Congress-led government for 126 aircraft. He also alleges that the deal was sealed at a higher price at a loss to the taxman to favour “a businessman”.
Anil Ambani has rejected Rahul Gandhi’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.
Mr Jaitley alleged that “Rahul Gandhi’s misadventure” was seriously compromising national security. “This (allegations on Rafale deal) is like a kindergarten or primary school debate ‘Well, I was paying 500 something and you’ve paid 1,600 something’. That’s the argument being given; it shows how little understanding Rahul Gandhi has,” Arun Jaitley told news agency ANI. “Every single word in the Congress’s allegation is factually false,” he said.