Rafale Deal: Nirmala Sitharaman -Rahul Gandhi face off intensifies

New Delhi: Rafale Deal discussions have heated up the Parliament with Governmen and Opposition both accusing each other. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi attacked each other over the entire process of the deal.

 Rahul Gandhi promised on Friday criminal investigation over Rafale jet deal if Congress comes to power in upcoming Assembly elections. The Congress made this comment after they accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of overruling objections raised by the defence and the law ministries to push ahead with a deal at a higher cost, without accounting for national security.

“The PM ran away from the Rafale debate and (Finance Minister) Arun Jaitley gave a long speech, abused me, but didn’t answer my questions,” said the Congress president. “We and the entire opposition want that when the defence minister speaks on the PM’s behalf, the questions raised by us should be answered,” he said.

Gandhi accused Sitharaman of “running away” when posed with questions. He said “The defence minister did not answer any of the questions I asked on the Rafale deal. She did not even take the name of Anil Ambani.”

Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tore through the Opposition. She alleged Congress of not making the important deal “till something else was done”. “You stopped the deal, forgetting the Air Force was suffering. The deal didn’t get you money,” she asserted.

Noting that for BJP national security was a priority she said, “There is a difference between defence deal and deal in defence.”

Taking a swipe at Gandhi for his Ambani mention she said “For every ‘AA (Anil Ambani)’ there is a ‘Q (Quattrocchi)’ and ‘RV (Robert Vadra)’,” she said. She did not miss the chance of reminding the Congress the large scams of UPA period.

Pulling no punches, the defence minister referred to the Bofors scandal that exploded when Rajiv Gandhi – the father of Congress president Rahul Gandhi – was prime minister in 1986 and said: “Bofors was a scam, Rafale is not. It is a decision in the national interest. They lost an election because of Bofors. Rafale will bring Prime Minister Narendra Modi back to power.”

In response, Congress President said that he is not accusing the Defence Minister but PM Modi of corruption.

The jibes at the Gandhi family worsened when Sitharaman reacted on Gandhi calling PM Modi a ‘thief’. “I don’t have a ‘khandan’ to boast on. PM also comes from a poor background. He has come here because of hard work. I have my honor intact. PM has his honor intact. We have all come from normal backgrounds,” said the minister.

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