Congress party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar (File photo)
Congress party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar (File photo)

Political slugfest on Rafale deal in Parliament on Day 1 of New Year

ANI | Updated: Jan 02, 2019 19:21 IST

New Delhi [India], Jan 2 (ANI): The first day of the New Year in Parliament on Wednesday saw a political slugfest between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party after the former released an audio tape in which claims were made that former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was in possession of Rafale deal related files.
Parrikar, who is now Goa Chief Minister and his Health Minister in state Cabinet Vishwajit Rane promptly dismissed the audio clip released by the Congress, saying it was a desperate attempt by the Opposition party to "fabricate facts."
Speaking to reporters outside the Parliament, Congress party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala played out the audio clip through Bluetooth Speaker claiming Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane was speaking in it to another person about the Rafale deal papers.
Congress claimed that in the audio, Rane 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 by-passed, it is all recorded in the files. Those files are with Parrikar. Why are those files being hidden?"
"It is clear from the conversation that Goa Minister Vishwajit Rane has himself said that Parrikar has all the files of Rafale deal and that no one can do anything with them," the Congress spokesperson alleged.
Dismissing the tape, Chief Minister Parrikar tweeted: "It is a desperate attempt on part of the Congress party to fabricate facts after the Supreme Court's ruling in the matter in December last year. No deliberations related to the deal took place during the Cabinet or other meetings."
"The audio clip released by the Congress party is a desperate attempt to fabricate facts after their lies were exposed by the recent Supreme Court verdict on Rafale. No such discussion ever came up during Cabinet or any other meeting," Chief Minister Parrikar tweeted.
Rane too hit back at the Congress, asserting that the audio tape was doctored and Parrikar made no mention about Rafale deal and its documents.
"The audio tape is doctored. Congress has stooped to such a low level to doctor a tape to create miscommunication between the Cabinet and Chief Minister. Parrikar has never made any reference to Rafale or any documents. I have asked him for a criminal investigation into the matter," Rane told reporters in Panaji.
The Goa Health Minister also shot off a letter to Parrikar demanding an immediate inquiry into the matter, adding that "such mischievous elements need to be brought to the books."
"This is with reference to an audio that has become viral regarding the Rafale row. At no point of time there has been a discussion between me and any other individual. There should be a thorough inquiry in this matter and I would like to once again inform the Chief Minister that there is someone playing mischief and there should be a thorough inquiry in this matter and such mischievous elements need to be brought to the books," Rane wrote in the letter.
However, the Congress that had stepped up its offensive against the government got more aggressive inside the Parliament as during the debate on the Rafale deal in Lok Sabha party president Rahul Gandhi threatened to play the audio tape and read the transcript of the alleged conversation.
Rahul Gandhi, however, aborted the idea after a strong protest from the treasury benches and insistence from Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to authenticate the tapes even as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accused Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party of spreading falsehood. (ANI)