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Verbal duel between BJP, Cong; paper planes as Lok Sabha debates Rafale deal

The Congress leader described Ambani as a "dear friend" of Modi and a "failed businessman"

Wednesday January 2, 2019 10:28 PM, ummid.com News Network

Rafale Deal today in Lok Sabha

New Delhi: Lok Sabha - the lower house of the Indian Parliament Wednesday witnessed stormy scenes as the Rafale jet deal was taken up for a discussion and saw a bitter war of words between the members of the ruling BJP and the Opposition led by the Congress party.

In an embarssment to the Narendra Modi government, its ally Shiv Sena, and BJD - a friendly party, also supported the Opposition's demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into the Rafale deal, with Sena claiming that people say the aircraft is good but the deal is bad.

The government however turned down the demand for JPC probe into the deal, saying there was no need for it as the Supreme Court has already satisfied its "conscience" on the issue.

"There are some people who have a natural dislike for truth. Every word spoken for the last six months on this subject, including in this House (by them) are false....He has a legacy of speaking falsehood", Jaitley said.

Jaitley referred to alleged defence scams during the Congress rule and said "conspirators" of past defence scams had the "audacity" to target the Modi dispensation.

This led to the Congress members throwing paper planes on Jaitley. "The debate was about the rafale deal. But, Jaitley started talking about Bofors, AgustaWestland. This is why we threw paper planes on him", Congress MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla said.

Earlier, initiating the debate, Congress President Rahul Gandhi targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, claiming that he “does not have guts” to come to Parliament to confront questions on the Rafale issue and “hides” in his room.

Questioning the rationale behind handing over the offset contract of the Rafale deal to “failed businessman” Anil Ambani, Gandhi said PM Modi bypassed procedures to award the contract to a private entity after agreeing to a three-time hike in the price per aircraft and reducing the number of planes to be bought.

Rahul Gandhi also referred to Modi's comments in an interview that no personal allegation was levelled against him in the matter and said this was not true as the "entire nation" is asking him a direct question on the contract for purchase of fighter aircraft.

"He (Modi) spoke for 90 minutes in a staged interview but still did not answer questions on the Rafale issue... He does not have the guts to come to Parliament and confront questions (on Rafale) and hides in his room," Gandhi said.

"We demand a JPC probe into matter. There is no reasopn for BJP leaders to feel afraid. The country will get to know that Modi put Rs 30,000 crore in the pockets of 'double A'. The contract was snatched from HAL (a government-run unit)," Gandhi said, alleging corruption in the contract.

'Double A' was an apparent reference to Anil Ambani, whom Gandhi repeatedly referred to in his speech before Speaker Sumitra Mahajan asked him not to name him as he is not a member of the House.

The Congress leader described Ambani as a "dear friend" of Modi and a "failed businessman". His defence firm was registered only 10 days before it got the offset contract from Rafale, a French firm, Gandhi said, alleging corruption in the Rs 58,000 crore deal.

Supporting the opposition demand for JPC, Biju Janta Dal (BJD) MP Kalikesh Singh Deo said, "Qatar bought these aircraft at a much cheaper price, propriety and procedure questions still exist, and we have a right to ask questions."

The debate on the Rafale deal will continue on Thursday.

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