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Rahul, Cong must apologise: BJP on Rafale verdict

Last updated on: November 14, 2019 21:54 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday hailed the Supreme Court's verdict in the Rafale case as a "victory of truth" and mounted an all-out attack on Rahul Gandhi over the issue with its president Amit Shah leading the party's demand for an apology to the nation from the Congress leader.

Soon after the court rejected pleas that sought a review of its earlier order which had quashed demand for a probe in the fighter aircraft deal, top BJP leaders targeted Gandhi, as Shah asserted that the decision is a befitting reply to those leaders and parties who rely on "malicious and baseless campaigns".

The decision reaffirms Modi government's credentials as a dispensation that is transparent and corruption-free, he added.

"Now, it has been proved that disruption of Parliament over Rafale (issue) was a sham. The time could have been better utilised for the welfare of people. After today's rebuke from SC, Congress and its leader, for whom politics is above national interest, must apologise to the nation," Shah said in a swipe at Gandhi.

BJP working president J P Nadda said Gandhi tried to "mislead the nation from road to Parliament" and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned if he raised the issue at the behest of the French firm's rivals.

Addressing a press conference, Prasad noted that the court let off Gandhi because he had apologised to it for wrongly attributing some strongly-worded criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to it and asked if the Congress leader does not owe a similar apology to the nation for misleading people.

 

"The Congress must apologise. Rahul Gandhi in particular must apologise. He ran a sponsored political programme that masqueraded as a quest for justice," he said.

With the Congress insisting on a high-level probe into the deal after the court's order, the law minister said it was really "shameless" of the opposition party to continue to push for an investigation despite losing the battle in courts as well as in elections.

After the apex court had dismissed in 2018 a clutch of petitions seeking probe into the Rafale deal after finding no reason to question the government process, Prasad said Gandhi made the fighter aircraft acquisition a main issue in the recent Lok Sabha poll campaign and often called Modi a "chor" (thief).

It was the lowest point in our political discourse and so shameful, he added, seeking Gandhi's apology.

In Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the allegations of corruption in the Rafale deal were aimed at maligning Modi's image of a clean and honest leader and demanded an apology from the Congress.

The Supreme Court on Thursday gave a clean chit to the Modi government in the case, saying review petitions were without merit.

The court rejected pleas which had sought re-examination of the December 14, 2018 verdict which said there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.

It also closed the contempt plea against Gandhi for wrongly attributing to it his "chowkidar chor hai" against Modi.

The court said the remarks made by Gandhi were far from true and he should have refrained from those and could have been careful.

Prasad said Gandhi stooped to the "shameful" extent of misquoting the top court deliberately and went on to "lie" in Parliament and even wrongly quoted French president Emmanuel Macron and his predecessor Francois Hollande on India's fighter aircraft deal with the country.

"Satyamev jayate. The order is a victory of truth, a victory of national security and also a recognition of the honest decision making process of the Narendra Modi government," he told reporters.

Hitting at the Nehru-Gandhi family, he said people with a "saga of corruption" from Jeep scandal to scams in Bofors to submarine and to AgustaWestland deals undertook a political programme masquerading as a quest for justice.

Asked that former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was also let off by a court order in the Bofors case, Prasad said that was a "highly questionable" order of the Delhi High Court when the Congress government at the Centre did not challenge.

In the Rafale case, the Congress campaign also aimed at harming India's prestige in the world under the Modi government, the BJP leader said.

A bevy of top BJP leaders, including Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who held the defence portfolio when the Rafale issue heated up during the Lok Sabha polls, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar also attacked the Congress.

Prasad said the whole campaign by Gandhi on the issue was "shrouded in deeply suspicious circumstances" and questioned if he was doing so at the behest of foreign firms who lost the contract, he said.

"This was not a campaign against corruption but a campaign to stand with those who lost out in the awarding of contract," he said.

The Congress has a "chequered history" of seeking contract in defence contracts, he said in a dig, and wondered if the UPA government led by it stalled the agreement for purchase of Rafale for this reason.

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