Rahul – Jaitley clash over Rafale deal in Lok Sabha

The Lok Sabha today witnessed very heated arguments between Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi over the Rafale deal. The Congress raised the Rafale issue in Lok Sabha today. The discussion took place under Rule 193 that does not entail voting. While Rahul Gandhi tried to question Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on this issue accusing him of hiding from answering directly, Jaitley attacked Congress party’s first family accusing them of their involvement in various suspicious deals.

The debate on Rafale jet fighter deal — punctuated by two adjournments and deafening protests by AIADMK workers on the Cauvery issue — saw a head-on collision between the government and the Congress in Lok Sabha today. As Rahul Gandhi targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, posing a series of questions that he said the PM had “no guts” to answer, Union Minister Arun Jaitley ripped into the Congress chief, accusing him of lying and raising the AgustaWestland deal and the National Herald case.

“It is a tragedy for the country that the Grand Old Party is headed today by a gentleman who doesn’t have an understanding what a combat aircraft is,” Mr Jaitley said in a no-holds-barred attack on the Congress. If the Supreme Court is satisfied, why would a joint parliamentary committee, which is divided on party lines, review it, he questioned.

Opening the debate on the Rafale fighter jet deal in the Lok Sabha, r Gandhi had 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.

“The Rafale aircraft was chosen after eight years of work by the Air Force; they wanted 126 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?”

Jaitley, on whose challenge the Congress agreed to today’s debate, was immediately on his feet. “This man lies repeatedly… 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”. Raising questions about the AugustaWestland deal, Mr Jaitley accused the UPA  government of playing with national security.

Earlier, Saugata Roy of Trinamool Congress asked why was a newcomer given offset contract instead of 70-year-old trusted public sector company?  He recalled that though there are 72 offset partners no one is questions, except Reliance, as it is having a debt of Rs 8,000 crore and loss of Rs 40,000 crore. There are 72 offset partners, no one else is questioned. Further, he also pointed out that there was no bank guarantee for Dassault. Rafale was turning out to be more expensive than Eurofighter Typhoon. Why did the govt not consider the cheaper option, he asked.

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