- He asked PM Modi to clarify why he scrapped a deal for 126 aircraft
- Shatrughan Sinha said he does not fear being thrown out by the BJP
- He made the remarks during the grand opposition rally in Kolkata
BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha on Saturday stepped up his attack on the centre over the controversial Rafale fighter jet deal and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi must answer a few questions else he will have to hear "chowkidaar chor hai (the watchman is a thief)".
Addressing the grand opposition meet in Kolkata, he urged Prime Minister Modi to "clarify why he scrapped a deal for 126 aircraft and signed a new one for only 36. Mr Sinha cited a report on the Rafale deal by The Hindu to say that the price of each aircraft jumped by over 41 per cent in the new deal.
PM Modi must explain why he decided to pay three times more for the same fighter jet, Mr Sinha demanded.
"The opposition has a few questions for you. Until you answer them, people will continue to say that chowkidaar chor hai (the watchman is a thief)," the rebel BJP leader said borrowing a jibe from Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
Shatrughan Sinha has often gone against his party line and criticised the centre's policies, but he stressed will call "a spade a spade" and continue to "show mirror" to the BJP. He added he does not fear being thrown out by the party.
"My elder brother Yashwant Sinha said after this I will be definitely removed from the party, I told him 'koi baat nahi hai' (no problem)," he said.
The Congress and other opposition parties have been alleging that PM Modi closed the Rs 59,000 crore deal without any transparency to benefit his "friend" and entrepreneur Anil Ambani.
Anil Ambani's company hasn't produced even a cycle ka chakka (cycle's wheel), forget about manufacturing aerospace components, Mr Sinha alleged at the "United India Rally" organised by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee at Kolkata's Brigade Parade Ground.
But it became the offset partner as part of the Rafale deal. How did that happen, PM Modi must clarify, said the lawmaker from Patna Sahib.
The clause requires Rafale manufacturer Dassault to ensure that business worth around Rs. 30,000 crores is generated for the Indian defence system. Reliance Defence is not making components for the Rafales ordered by India but is building assemblies for Dassault business jets.
"Why was Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which has experience of manufacturing MiGs and Sukhoi sidelined and a 10-day-old company with (virtually) zero balance and zero experience given the contract?" was the BJP lawmaker's next question.
The actor-turned-politician accused the Prime Minister of making hollow promises and indulging in rhetoric and said all of it won't work anymore.
"The people of the country can see through," he warned.
"Naye vaade ho rahe hain and performance kuch nahi (new promises are being made, but their performance isn't worth talking). Gehri khayi hai promises and performance ke beech (there is a huge gap between what they promise and what they deliver)," he said.
The BJP, tired of Mr Sinha's tirades, has called him an "opportunist". BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said some people are "intelligent in different ways", they abide by the party's whip so that they don't lose their membership.
"Sinha has been speaking against the party at various platforms. And it is important for the BJP to act against such people. The BJP will take cognisance of it," Mr Rudy said.
Disclaimer: NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group for its coverage of the Rafale deal