Congress president Rahul Gandhi, along with mother Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, led the Congress protests outside parliament this morning amid a raging controversy over the Rafale fighter jet deal. As the top Congress leaders protested, paper jets were seen.
The Congress leaders raised slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government before the report of national auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), was submitted in parliament today. The Rafale deal signed by PM Modi's government is 2.8 per cent cheaper than the one negotiated by previous Congress-led UPA government, says the report.
Rahul Gandhi had slammed the CAG report, calling it "Chowkidar (gatekeeper) Auditor General" report. The CAG report does not include the controversial and key point of pricing, as the Defence Ministry maintained that these details could not be revealed. The parts in the report referring to cost are redacted, which may provoke fresh opposition attacks.
Earlier today, the Congress president cited a report in The Hindu to claim that the prime minister's argument of better pricing and faster delivery of the jets to defend the deal has been "demolished".
The PM defended his personal RAFALE bypass deal on 2 counts :— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) February 13, 2019
1. Better Price
2. Faster Delivery
Both have been demolished by the revelations in the Hindu today.
Watch my LIVE Press Conference on the #RafaleScam at 3.30 PM today. https://t.co/IzyCaHeyIM
Mr Gandhi will address the media at 3:30 pm.
Yesterday, Rahul Gandhi had alleged that PM Modi is "acting as Anil Ambani's middleman", citing an email that he said revealed the industrialist had visited Paris and met with the French Defence Minister 10 days before PM Modi went there and announced the 36-jet deal with France.
Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence said in a statement that "facts are being deliberately twisted and reality being ignored" and that the visit had nothing to do with Rafale. A spokesperson says the industrialist visited France to discuss a deal for more than 100 Naval Utility Helicopters for which the government had sought information from international helicopter manufacturers in 2015.
The Congress alleges that the government went for an overpriced deal for Rafale jets to benefit Anil Ambani, whose Reliance Defence is one of the offset partners for Rafale maker Dassault. Both Dassault and Anil Ambani have denied the Congress allegations.
The Supreme Court in December refused to investigate the deal worth an alleged 8.7 billion dollars and rejected petitions that alleged corruption, including the choice of Anil Ambani's firm as domestic partner. But the opposition says the government concealed vital information.
Disclaimer: NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group for its coverage of the Rafale deal