- Rahul Gandhi met Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday
- Mr Parrikar alleged that he used the visit for "petty political gains"
- He claimed that there was no talk of Rafale deal during the interaction
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar today alleged that Congress president Rahul Gandhi visited him on the pretext of enquiring about his health, but later used it for "petty political gains". He also accused Mr Gandhi of lying, and maintained that the subject of the Rafale fighter jet deal had not even come up during their private conversation.
Mr Gandhi had met the 63-year-old Goa Chief Minister, who is suffering from a serious ailment, on Tuesday. He later said during a meeting with booth-level party workers in Kochi that Mr Parrikar had clearly denied any involvement in the Rafale fighter jet deal, indicating that it was "orchestrated" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "benefit" Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani.
Mr Parrikar said in his letter that he had received Mr Gandhi in a "healthy political spirit" despite the fact that he was fighting a severe ailment. "However, reading media reports covering your visit to my office has caused me distress. I feel let down that you have used this visit for petty political gains..." he wrote.
The Goa Chief Minister then went on to claim that there was no discussion on politics during their time together. "In the five minutes you spent with me, you neither mentioned anything about Rafale nor discussed anything related to it. Nothing whatsoever about Rafale was even mentioned," he clarified in the letter.
"Paying a courtesy visit and then stooping so low as to make a false statement for petty political gain has raised, in my mind, questions about the sincerity and purpose of your visit," he said, adding that such tactics should not be adopted against a person "fighting a life-threatening illness".
Mr Parrikar also reiterated in his letter that the aircraft were bought as per the Defence Procurement Procedure. "I have said this before and wish to reiterate it in today's context too. The fighter aircraft are being procured by following all stated procedures and keeping national security as the top priority," he said. Read the full letter here.
The former Defence Minister's letter was quickly followed by a caustic remark by BJP president Amit Shah. "Dear Rahul Gandhi, you have shown how insensitive you are by lying in the name of a person fighting a disease. The people of India are disgusted by your reckless behaviour. In his trademark style, @manoharparrikar ji sets the record straight," he said.
Prasanna Karthik, Officer on Special Duty to Mr Parrikar, had earlier accused the Congress president of being a "compulsive liar". "He came saying that he wants to convey his and his mother's wishes for a speedy recovery. The Chief Minister met him out of decency. Now he shamelessly lies about him -- a person who is fighting cancer without compromising on his commitments to his people. Disgusting," he tweeted.
Goa Minister for Animal Husbandry Mauvin Godinho voiced a similar criticism, saying that Mr Gandhi should not try to gain political mileage from personal meetings. "One should realise that when you come to enquire about a person's health, it should be limited to just that. He should not try to capitalise on that, then say something to the contrary. When one-on-one meetings take place between two people, so many things can be said about each other," Mr Godinho told news agency ANI.
Disclaimer: NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group for its coverage of the Rafale deal