Ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday accused Congress president Rahul Gandhi of using his courtesy visit to him for “petty political gains”, asserting that there was no mention of the Rafale issue in their five-minute meeting.
BJP president Amit Shah also ripped into Gandhi, charging him with “lying” in the name of a person fighting a disease and claiming that people of India are “disgusted by your reckless behaviour”.
Hours after meeting Parrikar at the Goa Assembly complex in Panaji Tuesday, Gandhi had told Congress workers in Kochi that the former defence minister had said that he had nothing to do with the Rafale fighter jet deal.
“Friends, the ex-defence minister Mr Parrikar clearly stated that he has nothing to do with the new deal that was orchestrated by Mr Narendra Modi to benefit Anil Ambani,” he had said.
In a letter, Parrikar asked Gandhi not to use his visit to an ailing person to “feed political opportunism”, saying that paying a courtesy visit and then stooping so low to make a false statement for petty political gains has raised in his mind questions about sincerity and purpose of the visit.
He said he felt let down that Gandhi used this visit for his petty political gains as the five minutes they spent together, neither did the Congress president said anything about Rafale nor did they discuss anything related to it.
“Here I am fighting against a life-threatening illness. Due to my training and ideological strength, I wish to serve Goa and its people against any/all odds. I thought your visit would give me your good wishes in that cause of serving our people. Little did I know that you had other intentions,” Parrikar wrote.
Asking Gandhi to put forth the truth about their visit, he said, “Kindly do no use your visit to an ailing person to feed political opportunism.”
The Goa chief minister noted that Gandhi had called on him Tuesday without any prior information.
Parrikar said he received Gandhi’s visit in the spirit of India’s healthy political tradition of rising above bipartisan considerations and wishing even opponents a quick recovery from any ailment.
“I received your visit in that spirit, fighting as I am, with good medical care, a severe ailment,” he said, adding that subsequent media reports of Gandhi quoting him on the Rafale fighter jet deal caused him “distress”.
“Nothing whatsoever about Rafale was even mentioned in your meeting with me,” he asserted.
The former defence minister reiterated that the fighter aircraft were procured following all stated procedures keeping national security a top priority.
Parrikar said, “The inter government agreement (IGA) and the procurement of Rafale are as per defence procurement procedure. I have said this before and wish to reiterate it again in today’s context too.”
Attacking Gandhi, Shah tweeted, “Dear Rahul Gandhi, you showed how insensitive you are, by lying in the name of a person fighting a disease. The people of India are disgusted by your reckless behaviour. In his trademark style, Manohar Parrikarji sets the record straight.”
The BJP president also tagged copies of Parrikar’s letter to the Congress president. PTI