Over the central government's disclosure in the Supreme Court that documents related to the Rafale jet deal have been stolen, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati has taken a sharp jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying it was an instance of "irresponsible chowkidari (to guard)". Her alliance partner Akhilesh Yadav also slammed the PM-- who calls himself the watchman of the country-- as he accused him of lying over the jet deal.
"The Modi govt made a sensational disclosure in the Hon'ble Supreme Court that secret documents pertaining to Rafale fighter deal were stolen from the Defence Ministry. Very strange & irresponsible chowkidari. Is national security & interest in the safe hands? Think long & loud," she tweeted.
"We are investigating how these documents were stolen," the government's top lawyer, Attorney General KK Venugopal, told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The government also targeted The Hindu newspaper over its investigative stories on the purchase of 36 fighter jets from France amid opposition allegations of corruption. The government also warned that those relying on "secret documents" - a reference to The Hindu and petitioners seeking an inquiry into the Rafale decision-making process - were violating the Official Secrets Act, for which the punishment is jail or fine.
"First there were parallel negotiations. Then the (Rafale) files were stolen. Meanwhile in Uttar Pradesh, MP-MLA used shoes for dispute resolution at a meeting to discuss development. Now BJP workers are asking their leaders as to what campaign is on? The ''jhoot'' and the ''boot'' or the youth and the booth?" Akhilesh Yadav was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.
The Hindu newspaper last month reported that the Defence Ministry had raised strong objections to "parallel discussions" conducted by the Prime Minister's Office during negotiations for the Rs. 59,000-crore fighter jet deal between India and France.
Mr Yadav's "boot" remark was in reference to a fight that broke out between two lawmakers in Uttar Pradesh's Sant Kabir Nagar. Both the leaders were seen beating each other with shoes in a video that was widely shared on social media.
The Congress and its chief Rahul Gandhi have leveled charges of corruption and crony capitalism in the jet deal. Today at a rally, he reiterated his allegation that PM Modi had changed the Rafale deal contract to benefit industrialist Anil Ambani.
He also reacted to the documents controversy as he demanded a probe into the deal. "I am not alleging anything anymore... government documents are saying it for themselves," he said.
Disclaimer: NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group for its coverage of the Rafale deal
With inputs from PTI