In a sharp counter-offensive against Rahul Gandhi over the Rafale issue, the BJP Friday said Congress chief's fresh allegation against Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "yet another lie from his lie-manufacturing factory" and accused him of working at the behest of foreign forces for the cancellation of the deal.
Gandhi demanded answers to questions raised by a report in The Hindu that the PMO conducted parallel negotiations on the Rafale deal, saying it is now crystal clear that the "watchman", a reference to Modi, is the "thief".
A bevy of Union ministers from the BJP hit out at Gandhi.
"Rahul Gandhi's lie-manufacturing factory has served us yet another lie. We absolutely reject his allegations. He and the Congress are working to get the Rafale deal scrapped. They are playing in the hands of foreign forces and companies with vested interests," Union minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who earlier in Parliament slammed the opposition for "flogging a dead horse", told reporters that the Congress has become a toy in the "ugly game" of multinational corporations and also criticised the news report for raising issues "selectively" and ignoring the then minister's reply to file notings of officials.
"Keeping in mind the ethics of journalism, isn't it the responsibility of the newspaper to publish response of Manohar Parrikar (then defence minister). Is it right to selectively raise issues to suit one's story? Picking this selective kind of noting and building an issue falsely on it is completely called out today," she said.
She also took exceptions to Gandhi's direct address to armed forces, asking if he wants to agitate them and to rise against the government.
At a press conference, Gandhi had said,"I want to speak to every member of the armed forces of this nation... It is absolutely clear that the prime minister has stolen Rs 30,000 crore of your money, bypassed a process, and given it to his friend Mr Anil Ambani."
Sitharaman said she was shocked at his remarks.
Rejecting the charge of parallel negotiations by the Prime Minister's Office, she wondered if the PMO asking the ministry of the progress can be seen as interference and parallel negotiations.
"Rahul Gandhi and the Congress are working to get the Rafale deal scrapped. They are playing in the hands of foreign forces and companies with vested interest," Javadekar alleged.
Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the Congress is doing a "hit job" for those conspiring against the national interest and accused Gandhi of levelling baseless allegations to spread confusion over the issue.
Taking a dig at the Gandhi family, he described it as a "scared, defaulter dynasty" and alleged the Congress president's baseless charges are aimed at diverting people's attention from probe in corruption cases against his family members.
"The lies of the Congress have often been exposed and it will be exposed again," he told reporters.
Javadekar asserted that Modi's credibility among people is high as they believe that he will put national interest first while they know that "the Congress is all about corruption".
He said the Congress-led UPA government had finalised the Rafale deal in 2011 but did not go ahead with it because "it had not got any commission."
There cannot be a deal in a Congress government without any commission, Javadekar alleged.
"The Supreme Court has said there is no scam in the Rafale deal. Gandhi does not accept it. Repeating a lie would not make it true," he said.
Union minister Giriraj Singh too took a dig at the Congress chief, saying Gandhi "now needs to see a psychiatrist" as the government has answered all questions raised on the issue and even the Supreme Court has rejected charges of corruption.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)