Defence Minister counters Rahul Gandhi’s charges on Rafael deal in LS, Oppn raises uproar

New Delhi: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday rejected Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s allegation based on a media report that claimed the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) ran parallel negotiations with France on the multi-billion Rafale fighter jet deal.

“A newspaper published a file noting written by Defence Secretary. If a newspaper publishes a noting, then the ethics of journalism will demand that the newspaper publishes the then Defence Minister’s reply as well,” Sitharaman said.

“Then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar ji replied to that MoD note saying ‘remain calm, nothing to worry, everything is going alright.’ Now, what do you call the NAC led by Sonia Gandhi’s interference in earlier PMO? What was that,” the Defence Minister asked in the Lok Sabha.

Several opposition leaders also commented on the issue and there was an uproar in the House.

The Congress and Trinamool Congress called for a probe by Joint Parliamentary Committee and criticised the prime minister.

Trinamool MP Saugata Roy said “the Modi-Shah duo is destroying defence backbone of the country.”

Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, also reiterated Rahul’s demand for a joint parliamentary committee. “Everything will be revealed then. We don’t want any explanation now. We have heard many explanations from PM.”