BJP protecting corrupt, silent on Rafale deal: Congress

New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday hit back at the BJP for “protecting its corrupt leaders and Ministers” and slammed Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for her silence on key defence controversies, including the Rafale deal.

It said the Income Tax Department was a “caged bird” of the BJP-led government and action against senior Congress leader and former Union Minister P. Chidambaram over a disproportionate assets case was “politically motivated”.

Addressing a press conference here, Congress Spokesperson Pawan Khera said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling BJP had not replied to questions over the Rafale price, Vyapam scam, PDS scam in Chhattisgarh, mining scam in Rajasthan and cases involving Union Minister Piyush Goyal, and BJP chief Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah.

“When will the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister respond to the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale scam? You also snatched offset business of Rs 30,000 cr from HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) in Bengaluru and gave it to your friend, who has no experience in this field. First, you give answers to these questions and then talk about other issues,” Khera said.

In a press conference held earlier in the day over the Income Tax Department’s chargesheet against Chidambaram for alleged non-disclosure of assets held abroad, Defence Minister Sitharaman asked if Congress President Rahul Gandhi will probe the matter against one of his senior colleagues.

Khera said Chidambaram had already clarified his stand on the issue and he would challenge the Income Tax Department’s action in a court of law.

Taking a dig at Sitharaman, Khera said the Minister always took a lead in responding to all issues, except those related to her ministry, the Rafale deal and other defence deals.

“The Defence Minister chooses to defend her party only. Defence of the country is not her priority. She is not interested in even talking about the welfare of Army or providing resources to the Army,” he said.

The Congress leader criticised top BJP leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, including Speaker Nirmal Singh and Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta for buying land rights next to the Army’s ammunition depot in Nagrota.

Khera also said that the government should not behave like the opposition and give answers to the questions affecting the common man.

“There is no answer to all these issues in the last four years. And new questions are surfacing every day. These questions are related to the life of a common man. You are mired in corruption from head to toe. Who will answer those questions?” he asked.