As Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave his address to parliament on Thursday, unloading unfettered criticism and insults on the Congress, a large part of his focus was on defence and the armed forces. Hitting out at the Congress for its allegations against the Rafale fighter jet deal, PM Modi said the party did not wish to see the country's armed forces strong.
"Congress does not want our armed forces to be strong. I am levelling a serious allegation," the Prime Minister said during his reply to the debate on Motion of Thanks on the President's address.
"I wondered why they speak lies on Rafale with such confidence. Then I realised because they know in all their years in power there hasn't been a single honest defence deal. Some mama, some chacha kept coming in," he said.
"When an honest deal is finally being signed, these people of the Congress are distressed. They have long faces," PM Modi said.
"We are still committed to zero tolerance for corruption," he said, adding that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had already clarified on the Rafale deal in parliament and the Supreme Court too had reviewed it.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi has attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeatedly over the past few months on the Rafale fighter jet deal, accusing him of corruption.
Speaking at a party event the Congress chief issued yet another challenge for a face-to-face, US Presidential style debate to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on national security, Rafale jet deal and the state of the nation's economy. The allotted time, he said, would be five minutes, But the Prime Minster, Mr Gandhi added, is a "darpok (coward)".
Later in the evening, unfazed by PM Modi's accusations in parliament, Mr Gandhi repeated his charge. "The Prime Minister has helped steal Rs 30,000 crore from the Defence Forces... he has done this personally."
The Prime Minister also said that the armed forces were adversely affected due to delay in procurements under the Congress rule and its personnel did not have bullet-proof jackets, proper shoes, communication equipment or even helmets.
"You had left the army unarmed. It was not in a position to carry out surgical strikes," he said.
(With inputs from PTI)