Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday launched yet another offensive against Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale aircraft deal, accusing him of corruption by helping out his industrialist ‘friend’ Anil Ambani.
Launching the Congress’ campaign in Rajasthan which is scheduled to go to polls later this year, Rahul used the term ‘chori’ (theft) while making the accusation.
He claimed that the deal for the French fighter aircraft had led to the loss of jobs for Indian youths, saying the agreement worked out while the Congress was in power would have ensured their manufacture in India.
Addressing a public rally in Jaipur, Rahul Gandhi said PM Modi had favoured industrialist Anil Ambani. The reference was to the business that foreign manufacturers are required to bring to Indian firms when a defence deal is signed with the government, under the country’s offset policy.
Ambani has already rejected Gandhi’s allegations and stressed that the government had no role in the French firm Dassault picking up his company as a local partner.
India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in 2015 for the procurement of 36 Rafale planes.
Gandhi said the price of the Rafale plane fixed now is about “three times” the amount agreed upon during the previous Congress-led government.
He said the “corruption” by the prime minister will become clear in the times to come: “PM ne Rafale me chori ki hai, jo aane wale time me saaf dikh jayegi.”
Reacting to his allegations, the Rajasthan BJP unit said that the issue was thoroughly discussed in the Parliament and no irregularities were found. “All wrong deeds happened during the Congress rule. Both UPA-1 and UPA-2 dispensation are known for corruption. They do not want to eliminate corruption,” said state BJP President Madan Lal Saini.
The Congress chief claimed that only 450 youths get employment in the country every day while China creates jobs for 50,000 people.
“Our youths are more honest, capable and stronger than the Chinese but it is a matter of shame that despite having almost an equal population, they are getting fewer job opportunities,” he said.
Refuting Rahul’s claim that the deal had snatched job opportunities from young Indians, Saini said the BJP government has created many employment opportunities for youths.
“Employment is not limited to government jobs. Several youths have got jobs and are self-employed through skill development programmes,” the Rajasthan BJP chief said.
Upping the ante against the Modi government, Rahul also took a jibe at BJP President Amit Shah, saying someone who has been a murder accused is now president of the party. Shah had been named in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, but was discharged by the trial court.
He questioned why Rs 2.3 lakh crore could be “written off” as bad loans to 15 or 20 big industrialists, but the government could not help debt-ridden farmers.
When farmers are unable to pay back their loans, they are called defaulters and are jailed. But the bad debts of big industrialists are called non-performing assets, he said.
The Congress leader said the poll promises made by the BJP ahead of the last general election still remained a distant dream.
He said farmers were committing suicide but the government was least bothered about it.
The condition of the women was the “worst” during the Modi government’s term, he said.
“In UP, a BJP MLA rapes a woman and entire UP BJP tries to protect him. Incidents occurred in Chhattisgarh also but the prime minister does not speak a word,” he said.
“We need to protect the ‘beti’ (daughter) from BJP leaders,” he said, mocking the government’s ‘Beti Bachao, Beto Padhao’ campaign.
Gandhi said that demonitisation of high-value currency bank notes and then the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which he called ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’, had broken the back of the common man and the small businessman.
He said a Congress government will include petrol and diesel under the GST and change it to single-layer tax system.
He said people from the weaker sections are being beaten and killed, minor girls are raped in almost every state in the country but the prime minister does not condemn such incidents.
People depend on courts for justice but Supreme Court judges are now seen begging for justice from people and the press, he said.
(With PTI inputs)