New Delhi: High drama was witnessed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi launching a tirade on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale deal and alleging he did not have the “guts” to face Parliament and “was hiding in his room”.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley hit back to accuse Gandhi of having a “legacy of lying” and “repeating falsehood” and alleged that “conspirators” of past defence scams are now raising fingers at others.
Gandhi cited a purported audio tape of a Goa minister on the Rafale deal which he refused to authenticate, but sought a JPC probe into the issue.
The Congress leader was disallowed from playing the purported audio tape by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, after Jaitley objected to the same unless Gandhi authenticated it and faced expulsion in case it is found to be false and fabricated.
“Why did you give this contract to your dear friend Mr AA and cost the exchequer Rs 30,000 crore….
“It is very clear that the prime minister does not have the guts to come to Parliament and confront questions. The defence minister hides behind AIADMK members, the prime minister hides in his room,” Gandhi alleged in the Lok Sabha.
Jaitley hit back alleging that “conspirators” of past defence scams are now raising fingers at the Narendra Modi government and quoted the Supreme Court judgement to say that all charges have been negated.
“There are some people who have a natural dislike for truth. Every word spoken for the last six months on this subject, including in this House (by them) are false….He has a legacy of speaking falsehood,” Jaitley said.
He said Gandhi has a “natural dislike for truth” and had earlier “manufactured” his conversation with the former French President, which was denied by the French government.
“We are all utterly disappointed because every word he has said has been denied by the Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court speaks on an issue, it is the last word,” the finance minister said.
Earlier Gandhi said: “We demand a JPC in this matter. I tell the BJP leaders that there is nothing to worry. The truth will come out. The country will know that Narendra Modi, on whom they relied, will know that he bypassed the entire procedure and gave Rs 30,000 crore to AA.
“The PM should come to the House and give answers…the entire country is pointing out at you Mr Modi,” Gandhi said.
Apparently targeting the Gandhi family, Jaitley said some people and their families understand the arithmatic of money but cannot comprehend issues of national security.
The finance minister also raised the AgustaWestland and the National Herald cases, and made a veiled reference to Ottavio Quattrocchi to attack the Congress leadership.
Jaitley also quoted a James Bond saying that when a mistake is repeated thrice “it is a conspiracy” and accused Gandhi of doing so.
“The conspirators of various defence deals have the audacity to raise questions against others,” he said.
As Congress members protested in the house and also flew paper planes, on which a warning was issued by the Speaker, Jaitley said “when they say falsehood, they must listen to the truth also”.
Gandhi earlier rejected Prime Minister Modi’s claim in an interview that there was no personal allegation against him on Rafale, saying this is not true as the entire nation is asking him a direct question.
“He (Modi) spoke for 90 minutes in a staged interview but still did not answer questions on the Rafale issue,” Gandhi said.
Gandhi posed several questions to Modi on Rafale and asked if it was not true that defence ministry officials objected to the new price of Rs 1600 crore against Rs 526 crore earlier.
He also accused Modi of favouring his “dear friend” and what he called “failed businessman” Anil Ambani.
When Gandhi said he did not wish to play the audio tape, alleging that the BJP members were “scared”, Jaitley hit back saying, “He knows it is wrong and hence is scared to authenticate it…this man lies repeatedly”.