Rahul Gandhi walked into the office of Manohar Parrikar in Goa on Tuesday, a day after tweeting about "explosive Rafale secrets that gave the Goa Chief Minister power over the PM". The Congress president has been asking for an inquiry into audio tapes that he says reveal that Manohar Parrikar has files on the Rafale jet deal and so has leverage over his leadership.
Rahul Gandhi called it a "personal visit" and tweeted: "This morning I visited Goa CM, Manohar Parrikar, to wish him a speedy recovery." The Congress in Goa said their chief - contrary to speculation -- did not raise the Rafale deal with the Chief Minister, who has been extremely unwell over the past few months with a pancreatic condition.
"It was a private visit. That issue (Rafale deal) was not discussed. Rahul Gandhi could make an official trip to Goa next month," Congress legislator Chandrakant Kavlekar was quoted as saying by news agency IANS.
Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi are on a vacation in Goa. On Monday, the Congress chief flew down to Chattisgarh for a rally before returning to Goa. After meeting Mr Parrikar, Rahul Gandhi dashed to Kochi.
The BJP in Goa said the Congress should "learn a lesson" from its chief. "It is very nice of him to do so. It should teach a lesson to the local unit of the Congress which has been troubling Mr Parrikar. He dropped in to just ask about his health," BJP leader Vijay Sardesai said.
Yesterday, Mr Gandhi put out a series of tweets raising the Rafale deal and the so-called Manohar Parrikar audio tapes.
"Thirty days since the Goa audio tapes on Rafale were released. No FIR or enquiry ordered. No action against (Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane) either," said Mr Gandhi.
"It's obvious that the tapes are authentic and that Goa CM Parrikar is in possession of explosive Rafale secrets that give him power over the PM (Prime Minister)," he tweeted.
30 days since the Goa Audio Tapes on RAFALE were released. No FIR or enquiry ordered. No action against the Minister either!— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) January 28, 2019
It's obvious that the tapes are authentic & that Goa CM, Parrikar, is in possession of explosive RAFALE secrets, that give him power over the PM. https://t.co/sKwwfIj0bM
The Congress claims to have an audio recording of a Goa minister quoting Mr Parrikar as saying that files related to the Rafale jet deal were "in his bedroom". Mr Parrikar, who was defence minister before becoming Goa chief minister in 2017, had tweeted that the audio clip was a "desperate attempt to fabricate facts". The minister supposedly on tape, Vishwajit Rane, also alleged that it was doctored.
The Congress claimed that Mr Parrikar, who was defence minister when the deal for 36 Rafale jets was signed between India and France, had said at a meeting of the Goa cabinet that no one could remove him as "all the Rafale papers are in my flat, in my bedroom". Vishwajit Rane, the Goa health minister, is on tape relating this conversation, claimed the Congress.
The Supreme Court has said there is no reason to doubt the decision-making process, delivering a huge reprieve to the government amid Congress allegations of corruption in the Rs. 59,000-crore contract.
The court rejected a probe and dismissed petitions that had alleged that the government had gone for an overpriced deal to help industrialist Anil Ambani's company bag an offset contract with jet-maker Dassault. "There is no evidence of commercial favouritism to any private entity," the court had said.
(Disclaimer: NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group for its coverage of the Rafale deal.)