- Arun Jaitley accused Rahul Gandhi of "lying" about the Rafale deal
- In a tart response, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala shot back
- Mr Jailtey's blogs "desperate quest to stay relevant," Mr Surjewala said
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley derided Rahul Gandhi as "Clown Prince" in a stinging Facebook post today, and accused him of "lying" about the Rafale deal and government waiving loans worth Rs 2.5 lakh crore to 15 industrialists.
"The world's largest democracy must seriously introspect whether public discourse should be allowed to be polluted by the falsehood of a Clown Prince," Arun Jaitley said in his blog, targeting the Congress president.
"In mature democracies, those who rely on falsehood are considered unfit for public life. Many have been banished from political activity because they were caught lying. But this rule obviously can't apply to a dynastic organisation like Congress party," he lashed out.
In a tart response, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala shot back: "And yes 'Jait-LIE' ji, the desperate quest to stay relevant of a 'court jester' by wasteful blogs continues."
In his blog, also titled "Falsehood of a Clown Prince", Mr Jaitley accused Rahul Gandhi of working to a strategy of making up a lie and repeating it several times.
"You lied on the Rafale deal, you lied on the NPAs (non-performing assets). Your temperament to concoct facts raises a legitimate question - do people whose natural preference is falsehood deserve to be a part of the public discourse?"
Loans to 12 defaulters were given before 2014 and it was only the present government which was making recoveries, the finance minister said. Defaulters, he added, are losing their companies and assets as they are being auctioned to recover dues.
Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly attacked the Narendra Modi government on the deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets from France, which he claims cost more than three times the price the previous Congress-led government had negotiated.
Countering his charges, Mr Jaitley said the previous government "concealed" the loans despite default, by rolling them over and NPAs or bad loans were hidden under the carpet.
"The truth, Mr Rahul Gandhi, is that your Government allowed the banks to be looted. The loans were inadequately securitized. Your Government was in complicity," he wrote.
"The campaign of falsehood on Rafale entirely led by the Congress President exposes his strategy i.e. concoct a lie and repeat as many times."
He went on: "If the 'Rafale concoctions' were the first big lie, the second one stated repeatedly is that Mr Modi waived off Rs 2.50 lakh crores of 15 industrialists. Every word of that sentence repeatedly uttered by Rahul Gandhi is false."
He alleged that during UPA rule, most of these accounts were not declared NPAs.