New Delhi, Dec 14:
Buoyed by the Supreme Court dismissing petitions seeking a probe into the Rafale deal, BJP president Amit Shah Friday described the order as a “victory of truth” and demanded an apology from Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. The Supreme Court’s decision is slap on the face of those who had alleged corruption, Shah said at a press conference. There is no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from France, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said on Friday. It is not the job of the court to deal with the comparative details of the pricing, it stated. Shah challenged the opposition party for a debate on the Rs 58,000 crore deal in Parliament and said the BJP will agree to as much time as it wants for a discussion after it reiterated its demand for a JPC probe into the matter. Accusing Gandhi of misleading people and endangering national security by raising questions on the Rafale deal at every meeting, Shah asked him to disclose the source of information on which he had based his claims. He also targeted the unity among opposition parties in attacking the Narendra Modi government over the deal, claiming all “thieves” had joined hands in dubbing the ‘chowkidar’ (watchman), a reference to Modi, a thief. But the court verdict has made it clear that they are scared by the ‘chowkidar’, he added. People didn’t buy into the allegations, Shah said, claiming they never questioned Modi’s integrity.
According to the BJP chief, never before in independent India had such an attempt was made to mislead people on the basis of “blatant lies”. Gandhi, he added, had started the “politics of lies” for his momentary political gains.
“The judgement is a slap on such a politics of lies,” he said.
The court also said the government had no role in choosing the offset partners for Dassualt Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale jets, he said.
“The Congress has been levelling allegations about this and the order is a slap on the face of those who have levelled these charges,” he asserted.
Gandhi has repeatedly accused the government of playing a role in ensuring that Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence gets an offset contract, a charge denied by the businessman, the government and the French firm.
The Congress president should apologise to people and also the armed forces, Shah said.
He also hit out at the Congress for its claim that the apex court’s judgement is a “vindication” of its stand that the court cannot adjudicate on the matter, saying the opposition party lives in an imaginary world where truth has no place.
To a question about the Congress’ demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Rafale deal, he said the opposition party first has to agree for a debate on the matter. Only after that can it be decided where such an investigation is required, he said.
Continuing to attack Gandhi, Shah said he should refrain from levelling such “childish” allegations in future as it may boost whatever little credibility he has.
Asserting that he had a suggestion for Gandhi, Shah said the sun’s fire will not dim, however much mud you throw at it. The mud will only fall on you, he said.
He asked the Congress chief to tell people why the previous UPA government could not seal a deal on buying Rafale aircraft between 2007-14 and questioned if it was because a “commission” on the transaction could not be finalised.
Shah noted that even the Supreme Court spoke about the need for India to buy modern aircraft.
“You (Congress government) harmed India’s security interests,” he said.
Shah alleged that scams of over Rs 12 lakh crore had taken place under the Congress-led UPA government.
“People of this country have not doubted even for a moment Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s integrity,” he said.
Asked if the issue of alleged corruption in the Rafale deal raised repeatedly by Gandhi in his campaign during the five state polls impacted the BJP’s showing, Shah said the matter was not about political benefits and losses but national security and the morale of armed forces.
The BJP has suffered a big blow in the elections, losing power in all three states it ruled.
The BJP president, however, declined to comment on the reasons behind his party’s defeat, saying he would do so later and wanted the focus to be on his comments on the Supreme Court judgement on the Rafale deal.
Shah also put out a series of tweets, saying the court didn’t find anything wrong with the process nor did it find any commercial favouritism in the deal.
“On the contrary, the SC held that govt had no role in selecting offset partners & found no merit in the demand for a probe based on mere perception of individuals,” he said.
“Truth always triumphs! Court’s judgment on the Rafale deal exposes the campaign of misinformation spearheaded by Congress President for political gains,” he said, adding that the order raises questions on the motive of those working to discredit the deal, which is important for India.
The Congress claimed the Supreme Court has vindicated its stand that the issue of “corruption” in the Rafale fighter jet agreement cannot be decided by it and challenged the Centre to constitute a JPC to probe the deal.