Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday slammed the Congress for repeatedly raking up the Rafale fighter deal issue, alleging that the main Opposition party does not want the Indian Air Force and the country’s security apparatus to be strong.
He charged that the Congress, in its “hate” for him has gone to the extent of “abusing” the country and its institutions like the armed forces, the Election Commission and the CBI.
Replying to a debate to the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address in the Lok Sabha, Modialleged that the Congress was not able to digest a “transparent” agreement as “history bears testimony that the Congress and UPA governments can’t work without kickbacks in defence deals”.
He also mocked the Congress for saying that surgical strikes were carried out during its governments too.
“When we talk about surgical strike,... the Congress says that it was done during their times too. But at that time, you (Congress) had virtually disarmed the Army,” the Prime Minister said.
He went on to add, “At that time, the Army was not in a position to carry out the surgical strike. The Army did not even have bullet proof jackets, there were no communication equipments. I am not going to mention about the weapons required... How could you even think of surgical strike?”
Alleging that the Congress ignored the requirements of the Army, the Air Force as well as the Navy, the Prime Minister posed to the Opposition party: “Why? You don’t think about nation security?”
He said India has such a serious security environment that there could have been dangerous consequences if any adversary had launched an attack.
“Why are you so insensitive towards the armed forces? Requirements of the Army, Navy and Air Force have been ignored by your government,” Modi said, addressing the Congress benches.
Questioning “Why no next-generation fighter plane has been acquired in 30 years”, he referred to the Rafale fighter deal and said, “Congress does not want our IAF to be strong. I am levelling serious allegation. That is why you are opposing Rafale (acquisition)? At whose behest? For which company are you doing it?”
Congress President Rahul Gandhi has been constantly alleging that there was corruption in the deal to procure 36 Rafale fighter planes from French company Dassault and that Rs 30,000 crore were “snatched” from state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited” to be given to an industrialist.
“I was wondering how they speak lies with such confidence. Then I realised that they have never done any defence deal without any kickbacks... There was always some ‘chacha’ or some ‘mama’ (uncle),” the Prime Minister said about the Congress.
“When we are making efforts transparently to strengthen the security apparatus, they are worried and they are downcast,” Modi said.
Apparently referring to the AgustaWestland helicopter deal scam during the UPA government and deportation of alleged middle man Christian Michel and two others from the UAE to India recently, the Prime Minister said the Congress is “worried” that their “raazdaar (custodian of secrets) has been caught -- not one or two but three. So, I can understand your anxiety.”
Talking about the Army, he said in 2009 during the UPA government, the force had sought 1.86 lakh bullet proof jackets and the demand was finally met by his government last year.
“If the Congress government had been formed again in 2014, Tejas (Light Combat Aircraft) would have still been on the ground,” he said.