New Delhi: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday accused Congress president Rahul Gandhi of being part of an ‘international conspiracy’ against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that he was trying to sabotage the Rafale deal at the behest of Mr. Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra.
The BJP fielded a spokesperson and two Union Ministers to defend itself on the defence deal.
“We recognise that there is a perception war. I will go around the country and patiently answer each and every question. We will certainly not take all of this false propaganda lying down,” Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
She claimed that Mr. Gandhi’s tweets from August 31 — which said, “..this Rafale aircraft really does fly far and fast! It’s also going to drop some big bunker buster bombs in the next couple of weeks” — hinted at a ‘collusion’ between him and former French President Francois Hollande.
Mr. Hollande had later revealed that India had suggested the offset partner.
“The tweet and his [Mr. Hollande] comment soon after can’t be a coincidence after all. Now you see, there is an international dimension too,” she added.
The government is in no mood to accept the Opposition’s demand for a joint parliamentary committee to probe the Rafale deal.
Ms. Sitharaman said a JPC probe would only end up in a “slandering-match.” She said all the facts about the deal are already in the public domain.
Minister of State (Agriculture) Gajendra Shekhawat accused the Congress of hatching an “international conspiracy”. “How Rahul Gandhi and he [Mr. Hollande] are linked as a part of nexus and are trying to sabotage the deal needs to be understood.”
Mr. Shekhawat alleged that the UPA government had called off the deal after a private company linked to Mr. Vadra was not chosen as a broker. “The friendship between Mr. [Sanjay] Bhandari and Mr. Vadra is well-known. Mr. Bhandari was pushing for Mr. Vadra’s firm to be the broker,” he said.
He said the Congress has built up a campaign to mislead the nation on the deal because they want to get back at the French manufacturer Dassault.
“Since Dassault did not listen to them even when UPA was in power, the Congress wants to ensure that the deal now too gets cancelled,” he added.