Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has said the Congress, which was in power at the Centre when the Rafale fighter deal was first proposed, sat on it till 2007 because it was unable to find a "middleman" with which the party can set up an "equation".
Every defence deal by the Congress had middlemen who were close to the party leadership, Yogi Adityanath said, citing Ottavio Quattrocchi, the alleged middleman in the Bofors case and Christian Michel, who allegedly had a similar role in AgustaWestland chopper deal.
"Rafale jet was delayed as the Congress was not able set up equations with middlemen or agents," the Chief Minister said at a press conference in Guwahati -- part of the BJP's nationwide contact programme following the Supreme Court's clean chit to the government on the Rafale deal.
Last week, in the backdrop of Congress allegations of corruption in the 36-aircraft deal with France, the top court said there was no reason to doubt the decision-making process behind the deal.
The Congress, however, called for a revision of the order after the government approached the Supreme Court for a "factual correction" in its judgment, which has a reference to the Comptroller and Auditor General report and parliament's Public Accounts Committee on Rafale pricing.
The Congress and other opposition parties have alleged that the Centre scrapped a deal for 126 Rafale jets negotiated by the previous UPA government and entered an expensive new contract just to help Anil Ambani's rookie defence company bag an offset partnership with the jet manufacturer Dassault.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi too referred to the alleged middlemen in the Bofors and VVIP chopper deals. "I want to know from the Congress -- is it agitated today and telling lie after lie because the BJP government's defence deals do not have any Quattrocchi "mama", Christian Michel uncle?" he questioned, speaking at an event in Raebareli, the parliamentary constituency of Sonia Gandhi.
Today, accusing Rahul Gandhi of carrying out a misinformation campaign on Rafale, Yogi Adityanath said the Congress chief should resign as his "lies" have been "exposed". The Congress chief, he said, has shown contempt towards the Supreme Court by not accepting the verdict.
"After the Kargil war, defence forces submitted their requirement of sophisticated equipment to the government. In 10 years of UPA, the security requirement of armed forces was not met," Yogi Adityanath said. The process of acquiring Rafale fighter jets started in 2007, but the Congress could not decide on it till 2014, undermining the security of the country, he said.