Rahul questions PM Modi’s silence on Rafale negotiations row

Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for being silent on the then Defence Ministry note which was cited by a newspaper to allege that the PMO was holding “parallel negotiations” with the French side, saying it was prepared by an officer who was not part of the Indian negotiating team.

“The Prime Minister has not uttered a single word about what the Defence Secretary has written about him in the file. It’s written that Narendra Modi did parallel negotiation. He spoiled and canceled the negotiation position of the Indian Air Force and India’s security. But the fact is you cannot deny the truth,” Rahul said while addressing a public rally in Bhopal.

Rahul said: “Yesterday, the Prime Minister spoke in Lok Sabha for 1 hour 45 minutes but did not say anything on Rafale even for one minute.”

Reacting on a recently announced interim budget by Prime Minister Modi-led government, the Congress chief said: “BJP lawmakers clapped when Modi government announced Rs 17/ day for farmers. I thought about what the party did. Got to know Rs 17. On one hand, the Modi government wrote off Rs 3.50 lakh crore debt of rich people but gives a paltry Rs 17 per day to farmers. And if you divide it further, it comes down to Rs 3.5 per person.”

Reiterating his party’s poll promise of giving guaranteed income to the poor if voted to power in forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, Rahul said: “Prime Minister Modi says he will give Rs 17. The Congress party has taken the decision that it will give a guaranteed income to the poor. We will not insult you by giving Rs 17.”

“Your strength made us win the assembly election in the state and made us waive your loans. We only listened to what you wanted and fulfilled it. No Congress’ Chief Minister will forget this and if they forget, a new Chief Minister will come.”

Rahul on Friday kicked off his party’s campaign for the Lok Sabha elections in Madhya Pradesh with a farmers’ rally in Bhopal. This was Rahul’s first rally in Madhya Pradesh after the Congress formed the government in the state in December last year after a long gap of 15 years.

Earlier in the day, the Centre dismissed a media report that claimed that Defence Ministry officials had raised concerns over the direct involvement of the Prime Minister’s Office in the Rafale deal and said that the report failed to publish the response of former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s note to the MoD over negotiations in the aircraft deal.

At a time when the government is facing backlash for not getting the sovereign guarantee from France in the Rafale jet deal, it is emerging that the then French prime minister had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that their government would fully back the obligations made by their firms in the contract.