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Eyeing kickbacks, Cong sat on Rafale deal: Modi

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Press Trust of India Dehradun
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday blamed the previous Congress-led governments for the delay in getting the Rafale military aircraft, saying the party sat on the deal as it was eyeing kickbacks.
Launching the BJP's poll campaign in Uttarakhand from Rudrapur, Modi said the Congress cared more for the malai (commission) than national security.
He pitched the BJP as the party that stood for the armed forces, saying the Congress governments cared little for what they sought modern weapons, bullet-proof jackets and the one rank, one pension scheme that his own government has implemented.
He said the deal for the French military aircraft was mooted during the term of Atal Bihari Vajpayee government but the following Congress-led governments delayed the acquisition.
They sat on it for 10 years because they were not getting the malai, he charged at the Rudrapur rally.
We proceeded with the Rafale deal after taking over, and in the next few months we will have the fighter aircraft to augment India's military strength," he said.
The Congress has criticised the new Rafale deal signed by the Modi government, claiming it is costlier and there is corruption involved. The Bharatiya Janata Party and the government have repeatedly rejected the charge.
Modi suggested there was scam in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal signed by the Congress government and revelations by Christian Michel, the alleged middleman, were now making the opposition party uncomfortable.
"Michel mama is telling it all in court, making them sweat," the prime minister said.
Modi did not directly refer to the recent Congress promise to implement an income guarantee scheme for the poorest 20 per cent of the population, if it is elected to power.
But he said the party had given the 'Garibi Hatao' (eliminate poverty) slogan generations back and has nothing new to offer in these elections.
The Congress was the very cause of poverty, he said.
"Remove the Congress and poverty will go away automatically," he said.
Modi accused the Congress of casting doubts on the valour of the armed forces after the surgical strike across the Line of Control in 2016, and not acting even after the Mumbai terror attack in 2008.
When we destroyed terror targets in Pakistan they began crying over it. Do you think the counter terror offensive was not right and I should have kept quiet," he said, in an apparent reference to the Indian retaliation in 2016 and the recent air strike in Pakistan.
"It is the job of the Congress to cower in fear. The chowkidar (watchman) knows no fear, Modi said in a reference to himself.
He said Uttarakhand had climbed up the development index after the BJP government took over at the Centre.
"Before 2014, all we heard of in Uttarakhand were the scams -- relief scam, excise scam and several others. Another thing we heard of was the horrible condition of its roads, with its highways broken and the roads strewn with potholes, he said.
"Now you can see what is happening in Uttarakhand on the development front, he added.
"Thousands of kilometres of roads are being built under the Bharatmala project. Work on the Rishikesh-Karnaprayag rail line is also in full swing, besides the all weather roads project. A new Kedarpuri is being built. New investments have started coming to Rudrapur in Udham Singh Nagar district, which is the hub of industry in the state," he said.
He accused former chief minister Harish Rawat, who is contesting against state BJP president Ajay Bhatt in Nainital, of having done nothing to stop the migration from the hills.
"Remember, each vote you cast in favour of the BJP will strengthen Modi and determine the future of a new India," he said.
He said he could not reach Rudrapur to address a rally last month and had promised to come back.
"I kept my promise, didn't I? It is Modi who knows how to keep promises," he said.

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First Published: Mar 28 2019 | 10:00 PM IST

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