Whole Country Pointing At You, PM Modi: Rahul Gandhi In Rafale Debate

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Rahul Gandhi said Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was "hiding" behind AIADMK members in the house.

New Delhi:

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government on the Rafale jet deal in parliament today, posing a series of questions that he said PM Modi had "no guts" to answer. The whole country, he said, was "pointing fingers" at the Prime Minister.

Opening the debate on the Rafale fighter jet deal in the Lok Sabha, Mr Gandhi, said the Prime Minister can give a "fixed interview" for 95 minutes, but "doesn't have the guts to come to parliament and face questions on Rafale. "Yesterday, PM seemed scared and tired in his interview. He said no one was questioning him on the Rafale deal. The whole country is questioning you".

Shouting to make himself heard above the deafening slogan-shouting members of the AIADMK, Mr Gandhi also attacked the defence minister, saying she was "hiding" behind the protesting members of the Tamil Nadu party.

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"The Rafale aircraft was chosen after eight years of work by the Air Force; they wanted 126 aircraft. Why was this changed to 36 aircraft? Who changed the requirement of the Air Force from 126 to 36? Did the Air Force tell the government we don't want 126?" Mr Gandhi said. "The excuse given was that we needed the aircraft urgently. Then why hasn't a single aircraft landed in India?"
Mr Gandhi also requested to play an audio tape on Rafale that the Congress claims is the recording of a Goa minister quoting Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar as saying that files related to the Rafale jet deal were "in his bedroom".

But when the Speaker repeatedly asked whether he was ready to authenticate it, Mr Gandhi said, "I understand that you are terrified, I will not play the tape, if it makes you happy."

Union minister Arun Jaitley, who had challenged the Congress to participate in a debate on Rafale, said, "This man lies repeatedly; why don't you authenticate it; you're scared to authenticate it." As the Congress members added to the din with protests, the house was temporarily adjourned.
Raising questions about the AugstaWestland deal, Mr Jaitley accused the UPA government of playing with national security.

Attacking the Congress over the National Herald case, Mr Jaitley accused Mr Gandhi of lying." There are some people who have a natural dislike for truth. This is a case where there is a dislike for truth. Today, he tried to play a tape which he knows his party manufactured," Mr Jaitley said.

The Congress has claimed that Mr Parrikar — who was the defence minister when the Rafale deal was signed — had said at a meeting of the Goa cabinet that no one could remove him as "all the Rafale papers are in my flat, in my bedroom". Vishwajit Rane, the Goa health minister, is on tape relating this conversation, claimed Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala shortly before the jet deal was to be discussed in parliament.

Mr Parrikar has tweeted that the audio clip was a "desperate attempt to fabricate facts". The minister supposedly on tape, Vishwajit Rane, also said the tape was doctored and that Mr Parrikar "never made any reference to Rafale".

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