Congress launches fresh attacks on govt over Rafale

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Launching a fresh attack on the Narendra Modi government over the Rafale deal, the Congress party on Wednesday claimed that it has audio recordings where a BJP minister from Goa can be heard saying that former defence minister and present Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar possesses all files related to the Rafale jet deal.

Parikkar was the defence minister when the deal was signed with French defence manufacturing giant Dassault Aviation.

Congress national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the prime minister should answer if this is the reason why the government has been opposing the demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) on the Rafale deal.

Addressing the media on Wednesday, Surjewala came out with an audio clip which he claimed was a conversation between Goa minister Vishwajit Rane and another person. cannot independently verify the authenticity of the audio clip made public by the Congress. Rane on his part has dismissed the allegations and said the tape is doctored.

In the audio clip, Rane purportedly can be heard saying that during a Goa cabinet meeting last week, Parrikar said he had an entire file and all documents relating to the Rafale deal lying in his bedroom. The audio clip was played for the media outside Parliament.

Congress’s attack comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a television interview said that there are no personal allegations against him. Modi said that he and his government have responded to the Opposition’s charges and that even the Supreme Court has held that there is nothing wrong in the deal.

To a question that Congress has accused Modi of crony capitalism, Modi said, “Those people who want to weaken the Army are levelling allegations.”

In response, Surjewala quoted Rane as saying, “The chief minister made a very interesting statement, that I have all the information of Rafale in my bedroom….that’s means he is holding them to ransom. He said it is in my bedroom here only in my flat, each and every document on Rafale.”

“Now the prime minister should answer. The country is demanding answers as to what secrets in the Rafale scam are lying inside Manohar Parrikar’s flat and bedroom,” he claimed.

Meanwhile, Goa BJP Minister Vishwajit Rane said the tape is “doctored”.

“I am confused with this audio. The Congress is targetting me since I have left the party and joined BJP. I have written to the CM and asked for a through probe in this matter. The Congress is losing ground in Goa and that is why it is resorting to this. I never had any discussion with anyone about this issue.”

He also told ANI that the “Congress has stooped to such a low level that it is doctoring tapes to create miscommunication between cabinet and the CM”.

“Mr Parrikar has never made any reference to Rafale or any documents. Have asked him to initiate a criminal investigation into this,” he told ANI.

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