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Rahul ramps up Rafale attack after media report, says PM guilty

Saturday, February 09, 2019

New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday demanded answers to questions raised by a media report that the PMO conducted parallel negotiations on the Rafale deal, saying it is now “crystal clear” that the "watchman" is the "thief" as he ramped up his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It is an open and shut case, Gandhi declared, citing a report in The Hindu newspaper claiming the Defence ministry raised strong objections to "parallel discussions" conducted by the Prime Minister's Office during the negotiations over the Rs 59,000 crore Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France.

As the report drew fresh battle-lines with the BJP and its ministers terming Gandhi's allegations another "lie from his lie manufacturing factory" and opposition leaders speaking out against the deal, the Congress president brought in his brother-in-law Robert Vadra and senior leader P Chidambaram to make his point.

"Whatever inquiry you want to do, you do it. You implement the law. Robert Vadra, P Chidambaram - you implement the law on everyone. No problem. But you also give answers on the Rafale matter," he said at a press conference, using the report to give his offensive on the Rafale deal a fillip.

He was responding to a question on the Enforcement Directorate interrogating Vadra in a money laundering case and the government's sanction to prosecute Chidambaram in the INX MEDIA case.

A day after the prime minister alleged that the Congress did not want the Indian Air Force to be strong, Gandhi said he wanted to address every member of the armed forces. "It is absolutely clear that the prime minister has stolen Rs 30,000 crore of your money, bypassed a process, and given it to his friend Mr. Anil Ambani," he said.

The government, as well as Ambani, have strongly denied any wrongdoing in the fighter jet agreement with France.

"We have been saying for more than a year that the prime minister is directly involved in the Rafale scam. Now, today, in The Hindu newspaper, it is black and white... That the prime minister himself was carrying out a parallel negotiation with the French," Gandhi said.

"It has been proven now that the watchman (chowkidar) is the thief (chor). What can be more clear than this?" he asked, reiterating epithets he has used several times earlier.

Holding up the documents quoted in the newspaper, he said the Defence ministry was clearly objecting to the interference.

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