New Delhi [India]: Union minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said the CAG report on Rafale deal has vindicated the NDA government’s stand and slammed the Congress for “manufacturing” lies over the issue, saying it did the same against VP Singh over the St Kitts issue in 1989.
Soon after the CAG report, tabled in Parliament, said 17.08 per cent of money was saved for the India-specific enhancements in the 36 Rafale plane deal, Jaitley said Congress president Rahul Gandhi had “manufactured statistics and data which does not exist” and that the Opposition party has a “legacy” in this regard.
Gandhi has been repeatedly raking up the Rafale issue, alleging that the NDA government was buying the fighter planes at rates higher than those proposed by the previous UPA government.
In his first interview after returning to India after medical treatment in New York, Jaitley told ANI that “history is repeating itself” as the Congress has been “manufacturing” lies over the fighter jet deal and attempting to malign Prime Minister Narendra Modi as it did against VP Singh in 1989 over the St Kitts issue.
“When the Supreme Court examined the matter and was satisfied, the matter should have ended there. Now, the CAG has seen the matter. CAG report vindicated the stand of the NDA government and blasted the big lie spearheaded by the Congress. Rahul manufactured statistics and data which do not exist. Using that data, he repeated the lie to the country,” Jaitley said.
“This is the Congress’ legacy. Congress stands for the destruction of institutions. In 1989, the Rajiv government manufactured framed a St Kitts issue against VP Singh who was a clean man. Exactly 30 years later, history is repeating itself. The Congress’ scandals are evident from court proceedings. They want to malign the image of Prime Minister Modi,” he added.
The St Kitts issue, to which Jaitley referred, involved allegations by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi against V P Singh’s son Ajeya Singh that he had a bank account in St Kitts. The case, however, fell later in the court as no evidence was found.
With regard to the dissent note put forth on the deal, Jaitley said the same officer, who issued the note, subsequently came to terms with it and it was his signature that went with the final note.
“In a consultation process, people are bound to express different views. Ultimately, the government is one and the Ministry is the same. So Joint Secretary who signed the note, his view was not agreed upon. Later, Cabinet note proposing present transaction on present terms was signed by him. Therefore, the so-called author of the note ultimately supported the deal,” the minister said.
“These have been repeatedly clarified in the media. But vested interests will rake it up. The face of those who were manufacturing one lie per day stands condemned,” he said.
Accusing the Congress of compromising on national security, Jaitley said, “On one hand, IAF had been demanding increased combat ability as our neighbouring countries had scaled up theirs. On the other hand, vested interests have been trying to make this deal controversial.”
He added that what started in 2000, was stalled in 2012, and “national security was compromised. There was no valid reason for stalling the deal. This (Rafale) is a combat aircraft that IAF needs.”
Jaitley also responded to the Congress allegation that CAG Rajiv Mehrishi would “save the government” on the Rafale deal as he himself was “complicit” in the matter since he was the Economic Affairs Secretary during the time when the agreement was finalised.
Mehrishi had nothing to do with the deal as matters of defence purchases went to the Secretary of Expenditure, and not to the Economic Affairs Secretary, Jaitley said.
“Anybody with an elementary knowledge of governance would know that the Finance Secretary is not a post, it is a designation given to the senior-most official. The present CAG (Mehrishi) was the Secretary of Economic Affairs. He had nothing to do with defence purchases. Purchases and expense incurred go to the Secretary of Expenditure. No file or any decision relating to any defence purchase, or Rafale in particular, ever went to Mehrishi when he was Economic Affairs Secretary for 11 months.”