New Delhi: The Shiv Sena in its editorial mouthpiece ‘Saamna’ slammed its ally – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – for mocking those who raise questions on the Rafale fighter jets deal. It also sought an answer from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on whether the multi-billion deal was meant to strengthen the Air Force or a financially-troubled industrialist.
Sena’s attack comes amid the ongoing mud-slinging between the Congress and the BJP over the Rafale deal. Earlier on Friday, a media report claimed that the Defence Ministry had raised strong objections to “parallel discussions” conducted by the PMO during the negotiations over the Rs 59,000 crore Rafale deal between India and France. However, the same was dismissed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who claimed that whatever had been leaked so far was being distorted as only half-truths had been published.
Meanwhile, the Sena attacked PM Narendra Modi over his speech on ‘patriotism’ in Parliament while terming the media report as a ‘black page’. It said, “But the very next day, the ‘black page’ (document) came out, which silenced those raising patriotic slogans and thumping benches in the House.”
Backing Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s constant criticism of the government on the issue, the Uddhav Thackeray-led party said, “Those who sing paeans of Rafale deal are patriots, while those raising questions about its pricing are being labelled as traitors now.”
Adding further, it said, “Modi was directly ‘dealing’ in the Rafale transactions. Key people like defence minister, defence secretary were kept away from it. Modi himself took decisions on issues like prices of Rafale (planes) and who would get its contract. Hence, he will have to face allegations and criticism.”
Slamming the Prime Minister for saying in the Parliament that the opposition could criticise him and the BJP, but not the nation over the issue, the Sena asked, “How does seeking explanations on issues of national security become criticism of the country.”
The party also lambasted PM Modi for ‘blaming the Congress for issues such as price rise and corruption’ and asserted that is akin to shrouding own (the government’s) failures, while adding that the people of the country would keep asking questions till they get a satisfactory answer on why a plane costing Rs 500 crore was bought at Rs 1,600 crore.