NEW DELHI: The BJP alleged on Saturday that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is being used as a “pawn” by rival defence companies and claimed that he and his party keep raking up allegations of corruption in the Rafale deal in an attempt to “weaken” India.
At a press conference, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also played down the appointment of a judge in France to lead a judicial investigation into the alleged corruption and favouritism in the Rs 59,000 crore deal, saying the development was outcome of a complaint by an NGO and should not be seen as a matter of corruption.
This is akin to a competent authority in India writing down in a file that “please act accordingly” when a matter is brought before him, Patra said and accused the Congress of spreading lies and misconceptions over the issue.
The Congress has become synonymous with spreading lies and misconceptions, he said.
“The way Rahul Gandhi is behaving, it will not be an exaggeration to say that he is being used as a pawn by competing companies. He has been lying right from the beginning on the issue.
“Probably, he is acting as an agent or some member of Gandhi family has been for a competing company,” Patra alleged.
The Congress has demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the Rafale deal, saying it is the only way forward to find the truth about “corruption” in the purchase of the fighter jets.
The Congress’ demand came after French investigative website Mediapart reported that a French judge has been appointed to lead a “highly sensitive” judicial investigation into alleged “corruption and favouritism” in the Rs 59,000 crore Rafale fighter jet deal with India.
Patra cited a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report and a Supreme Court (SC) verdict, both of which had found nothing wrong in the defence deal between the Indian and French governments, to reject allegations of the Congress.
The government won a judicial verdict as well as an electoral verdict, he said in reference to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in which the BJP notched up a massive victory with the Congress making the alleged corruption in the Rafale deal as a key plank of its campaign against the Modi government.
The BJP spokesperson noted that the Supreme Court had in its verdict in November 2019 said that there can’t be a roving and fishing enquiry pertaining to the Rafale allegations, and accused Gandhi of going on another “fishing expedition” with his party attacking the government.
The SC had made these remarks while rejecting a plea to review its December 2018 decision to reject a plea for a court-monitored probe into the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft.
Gandhi is trying to weaken India, Patra alleged.
He also cited a number of allegations levelled by Gandhi, including his attributions to former French president Francois Hollande and incumbent Emmanuel Macron to back his charge of corruption against the Modi government, and noted that both French leaders had immediately denied making such comments.
Gandhi also had to tender an apology to the Supreme Court for wrongly claiming that the top court has agreed that “chowkidar chor hai” (watchman is thief), a pet slogan of the Congress leader against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run up to the 2019 polls.
Patra alleged that as the Gandhi family had received no commission in the Rafale deal, its party had been levelling these allegations.
The Congress is also using the issue to diver attention from political instability hitting its governments in Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, he claimed.