Supreme Court Rafale deal verdict powers BJP against Congress
New Delhi : Buoyed by the Supreme Court relief to the government in the Rafale deal, BJP President Amit Shah and a battery of ministers attacked Congress President Rahul Gandhi for his campaign of "lies" and demanded an apology to the nation.
However, Gandhi, hit back saying the nation knew that there was "corruption" in the deal and repeated his jibe that "watchman is a thief" who helped a private industralist.
While Gandhi and his party leaders demanded constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), maintaining that it can alone bring out the truth, the government and the BJP leaders rejected it. They said the Congress should come and debate in the House instead of disrupting it.
Shortly after a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi rejected a bunch of petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the controversial fighter jet deal, the top guns of BJP addressed various press conferences to come down heavily on Rahul Gandhi for his campaign against the government and the Prime Minister.
They said now that the Supreme Court has given its judgement, all debate should end.
In both Houses of Parliament which were disrupted on the issue, Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanded that Gandhi should apologise for throwing "false" allegations.
In Rajya Sabha, Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley challenged the Congress for a debate on the issue.
BJP President Amit Shah held a press conference and demanded that Gandhi apologise to the nation for his "brazen lies" accusing the government and said he should also disclose the source of information for his attacks.
Shah said truth had triumphed and Gandhi's "lies" had no legs to stand on.
Quoting from the judgement, Shah said the court expressed satisfaction with the process followed in purchasing the aircraft and set aside the demands of the petitioners for a probe into the matter.
He said the court agreed with the government's contention that the country had financially benefited in the deal.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addressed a press conference with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and rejected the Congress' demand for a JPC probe into the Rafale aircraft deal.
He said the "family" was not above the Supreme Court in a democracy, the apex court verdict was absolute and conclusive and the "truth in such matters come from judicial process and not on the basis of political partisan lines".
Gandhi, who has spearheaded attack on Rafale, also addressed a press conference and accused the government of telling "lies". He raised questions over the statement that a parliamentary committee had examined the pricing details of the Rafale deal and asserted that there was no such meeting.
He attacked Modi and persisted with demand for a JPC which, he said, would expose the "lies".
Citing the Supreme Court judgement that referred to a parliamentary committee having examined the price details of the fighter jet, he said no such meeting was held.
"Today Supreme Court gave a judgement and I want to read three lines from it. 'The pricing details have, however, been shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).' This is the foundation of the judgment," Gandhi said.
Party leader Mallikarjun Kharge, the PAC Chairman, who was at the press conference, said no such report came before the panel and the CAG was also not aware of it.
Kharge had earlier told reporters in the Parliament that the government of was trying to hide its "theft" in the Rafale deal behind a court ruling.
"They are trying to hide the theft under the guise" of PIL-triggered court judgement, he said.
"Our demand continues to be JPC. They want to hide behind the judgement... We will not tolerate this, nor will the people of the country."
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewal alleged there was "multi-layered corruption" in the deal.
"We know that the Supreme Court has no powers to look into all the aspects. So the Congress never went to the Supreme Court. I challenge (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi (to go) for a JPC probe."
Former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan expressed shock and disappointment over the verdict and said it "neither addressed the documented facts nor dealt with their main prayer seeking an investigation into the deal to purchase the French fighter jets".