Congress targets Modi govt over Rafale fighter jet deal, judge Loya's death

Amit Shah says cannot disclose details that compromise national security

Rahul Gandhi

The Congress party on Friday kept up the pressure on its demands that the Narendra Modi government disclose the price details of the Rafale fighter jet deal.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi also led a delegation of Opposition MPs to the President to petition him to order a court ordered SIT probe into the death of CBI judge BH Loya, and said they had no faith in either the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

At the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentary party meeting, party chief Amit Shah told party MPs that disclosing the Rafale fighter jet deal details in Parliament will harm national interest and that the UPA dispensation had also followed a similar practice.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said Shah told party MPs that broader details of the transaction, including that it would cost over Rs 58,000 crore, have been shared but break-up of expenditure cannot be made public.


Congress targets Modi govt over Rafale fighter jet deal, judge Loya's death
Congress targets Modi govt over Rafale fighter jet deal, judge Loya's death

The Congress chief targeted Jaitley in a tweet, where he twisted his name to indicate that the FM spoke untruths. Gandhi already faces a privilege motion for his world play on the issue.
He had also asked the Congress president to "learn" from former defence minister Pranab Mukherjee "lessons on national security".Shah also lauded Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's reply on the matter in Lok Sabha yesterday. Jaitley had accused the Congress of "seriously compromising" national security by demanding disclosure of details of the deal.

"Dear Mr Jaitlie, You said the UPA never released prices of Defence purchases? To nail your lie, here are three Parliamentary replies by the UPA with full transparency on pricing. Now do ask our Raksha Mantri (Defence Minister) to tell India how much each Rafale jet cost," Gandhi tweeted.

Questioned by a journalist outside the Rashtrapati Bhavan on whether he had used a spell check before putting out the tweet, Gandhi replied in mock surprise, "I need to look at the spell check."

"Arun Jaitley said yesterday in Parliament that we did not show the price (of defence deals). We have shown that we did. So what else do I have to call him. Because he is not telling the truth," he said, referring to the Rafale jet deal.

In an earlier tweet in December last year, Gandhi had addressed the finance minister the same way. On this, BJP MP Bhupender Yadav moved a privilege motion against him. Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has sent it to the Lok Sabha speaker for further action, noting that there seemed to be a prima facie case of privilege against Gandhi.

Earlier in the day, Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala listed a series of questions on the fighter jet deal. He demanded answers on the price, the secrecy surrounding the deal, the government's silence on the issue and alleging that prior permission of the Cabinet Committee on Security was not taken.

On the issue of the death of CBI judge Loya, a memorandum has been signed by 114 MPs from 15 parties, including the Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Samajwadi Party, Aam Aadmi Party and the Left parties. The Bahujan Samaj Party is not a signatory to the letter.

It asked the President to intervene in the matter and order a thorough investigation. Loya, who was hearing the sensitive Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, died of a cardiac arrest in Nagpur on December 1, 2014, when he had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague's daughter.

"A large number of MPs feel suspicious and uneasy over the death of judge Loya and two others. They wanted an independent probe and did not want the investigation to be handed over to the CBI," Gandhi said after the meeting.

"In the case of Sohrabuddin (Sheikh fake encounter), CBI officers did not appeal (against the discharge of BJP president Amit Shah). We do not have any faith in them," Congress leader Kapil Sibal said.

Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi were allegedly killed in a fake encounter in November 2005.