Rahul targets PM again over Rafale deal; dubs speech in LS as “campaign speech”

Congress president Rahul Gandhi wednesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of protecting those behind alleged corruption in the Rafale deal and said he needs to answer the country on questions posed to him on it and on farmers and jobs instead of making allegations in Parliament.

Rahul Gandhi made the accusation while reacting to Modi’s speech in the Lok Sabha, which, he dubbed as a “political and campaign speech”.

“We expected a vision. Instead we got a visionless election speech. It didn’t have the gravitas or maturity you would expect of the prime minister,” he said in a statement.

Echoing Rahul Gandhi’s views, Congress Parliamentary Party leader Sonia Gandhi asserted that the prime minister has said nothing new and he is repeating old things.

“People are interested about their jobs, they want to know about their future,” she said after Modi’s reply to the debate in the Lok Sabha on the motion of thanks on the president’s address.

The Congress chief also accused the prime minister of being obsessed with the Congress party, saying it is doing disservice to the nation by not focussing on its future.

“We are happy with the prime minister to be obsessed with the Congress party, but it is a disservice for our prime minister to spend so much time on the Congress and so little on the future of the nation.

“The nation has reposed its trust in the prime minister. It expects the prime minister to respond with seriousness towards its problems,” he said in his first official statement.

Describing the prime minister’s speech as a “political and campaign” speech, Rahul Gandhi said Modi seems to have forgotten that he is the prime minister and not an opposition leader.

Alleging that something wrong has happened in the Rafale jet deal with France, the Congress chief noted that the country has to understand that the prime minister talked about corruption and had said he will launch an attack on it.

“But in the Rafale deal, there has been corruption and the prime minister is protecting those who have done corruption,” Rahul Gandhi alleged without elaborating.

“He made a political speech, a campaign speech, but did not speak on the issues before the country…The prime minister talked for one hour, but did not utter a single word about the Rafale deal…

“Questions are being asked by the country from the prime minister, but he is not answering… Here (in Parliament) you have to give answers and not ask questions to the country instead,” he said outside Parliament.

According to Rahul Gandhi, the prime minister can talk against the Congress party at a public meeting, but not in Parliament where he needs to answer questions posed to him by the country.

“He is right in talking about the Congress party, but this is not the place to raise it. You can raise this issue at a public meeting, but not here. Here, you have to answer to the country. You are not to make accusations here…

“Every time there is a speech about Congress party and leaders of Congress party and about Narendra Modi,” he said.

Gandhi said the nation is faced with three criticial problems of jobs and employment, agriculture with lack of government support breaking the will of farmers who are driven towards suicide, and new dangers on India’s borders as “the security of our nation is at peril”.

“The nation expected the Prime Minister to address these three issues and provide us with a vision. We were waiting to support and applaud him for such a vision. Instead the prime minister’s speech today was an attempt at diverting the nation’s attention from these three problems.

“The truth is the prime minister does not know how to take India forward. That is why he always reaches into the past,” he said.

The Congress chief said there are three-four issues before the country – what future do farmers have, how to provide employment to youth and whether there was a scam in the Rafale deal.

“We had three clear questions – You changed the contract in Paris, did you ask the Cabinet Committee on security and what price have you paid for the aircraft,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi noted that it is for the first time that the defence minister is saying “we will not tell the country”.

“This is the biggest deal for the backbone of the Air Force, but defence minister says we will not tell the country as it is a secret, under a deal struck in Paris”.

He said the Congress party is only asking questions but not getting answers. “Please answer whether you changed the deal yourself. Whether you paid more or less and whether you took permission that you were to take. It is simple. But answers are not coming,” he said.

Countering Modi on corruption, he said he has spoken time and again about his commitment to rooting it out. “Now when confronted with Rafale, in which he directly intervened, he is completely silent”.

Instead of talking about farmers, providing them right prices and waiving of their debt, the prime minister is talking about bamboo and honey bees, he added.

“Look this is not an issue of bamboo and honey bees, it is about providing right prices to farmers and protecting their future. The prime minister did not talk about this,” he said. PTI