New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday sharpened its attack onthe Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the Rafale fighter jets deal, claimingthat Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar possessed all files related to thecontroversial pact, as claimed in the audio clip released by the party. Speakingto reporters outside the Parliament, Congress party spokesperson Randeep SinghSurjewala played out the clip, claiming that Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Ranewas speaking in it to another person about the deal.
In the audio, Rane, as claimed by Congress, divulged that Parrikar, who was the Defence Minister when the Rafale deal was signed in 2016 between India and France, had “all files related to the deal in his bedroom.” After playing the minute-long audio, Surjewala said, “Former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has all the files relating to the Rafale jet deal. The fashion in which every procedure was bypassed, it is all recorded in the files. Those files are with Parrikar. Why are those files being hidden?” Continuing his tirade against the BJP, Surjewala asserted that Rane’s revelations revealed the truth of the alleged scam in the Rafale deal.
“It isclear from the conversation that Goa Minister Vishwajit Rane has himself saidthat Parrikar has all the files of Rafale deal and that no one can do anythingwith them,” the Congress spokesperson alleged. Taking a jibe at PrimeMinister Narendra Modi for his continued silence on the controversial deal,Surjewala alleged: “Now it is clear that the ‘chowkidaar is chor’ (thewatchman is a thief). The Prime Minister should answer the nation about the‘secret’ files of Rafale deal lying inside Parrikar’s bedroom and residence.What is the issue in making all these document public?” He reiterated thata Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) is the only way forward to expose thefacts of the alleged Rafale scam.
Later, Ranehit back at the Congress, asserting that the audio tape was doctored and Parrikarmade no mention about Rafale deal and its documents. “The audio tape isdoctored. Congress has stooped to such a low level to doctor a tape to createmiscommunication between cabinet and Chief Minister. Parrikar has never madeany reference to Rafale or any documents. I have asked him for a criminalinvestigation into the matter,” Rane told reporters in Panaji.
The Goa HealthMinister also shot off a letter to Parrikar demanding an immediate inquiry intothe matter, adding that “such mischievous elements need to be brought tothe books.” “This is with reference to an audio that has become viralregarding the Rafale row. At no point of time there has been a discussionbetween me and any other individual. There should be a thorough inquiry in thismatter and I would like to once again inform the Chief Minister that there issomeone playing mischief and there should be a thorough inquiry in this matterand such mischievous elements need to be brought to the books,” Rane wrotein the letter.
Earlier in theday, former union ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha, along withadvocate Prashant Bhushan moved to the Supreme Court for review of Rafalejudgement. Bhushan is seeking review of December 14 judgement on Rafale.
The SupremeCourt on that day had dismissed all petitions seeking court-monitored probeinto the Rafale fighter jet deal with France, saying that there was no occasionto doubt the decision-making process in the deal. The top court said it was notits job to go into the issue of pricing. The bench, headed by Chief Justice ofIndia (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, said that there is no need to conduct aninvestigation into details of Rafale pricing. The Rafale jet deal controversyhas been on the boil over the last few months. The Congress and other oppositionparties have been alleging irregularities in the high-profile deal.