Sparks fly over tape cited by Cong on Parrikar's purported claim on Rafale deal's file; Govt hits back

As tempers ran high in the Lok Sabha, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the tape is "false and fabricated", asking the Congress president if he can authenticate. Jaitley also asserted that Gandhi may have to face privilege motion and even expulsion in case the tape turns out to be fabricated.

Sparks fly over tape cited by Cong on Parrikar's purported claim on Rafale deal's file; Govt hits back
Parrikar on his part termed the audio clip cited by the Congress on the Rafale deal as a desperate attempt to fabricate facts after the Supreme Court exposed the "lies" of the opposition party.
By: PTI
Updated: 02 Jan 2019 06:55 PM
New Delhi: Sparks flew between the Congress and the Government Wednesday over Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's purported claim he had a file on the Rafale jet deal "lying in his bedroom" and Rahul Gandhi making an attempt in the Lok Sabha to play an audio tape purportedly of a Goa minister regarding this matter.

As tempers ran high in the Lok Sabha, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the tape is "false and fabricated", asking the Congress president if he can authenticate. Jaitley also asserted that Gandhi may have to face privilege motion and even expulsion in case the tape turns out to be fabricated.


Parrikar on his part termed the audio clip cited by the Congress on the Rafale deal as a desperate attempt to fabricate facts after the Supreme Court exposed the "lies" of the opposition party.

No such discussion as cited in the audio clip ever came up during the Cabinet or any other meeting, said Parrikar, who was the defence minister when India and France signed a deal for the purchase of fighter aircraft from France.

The Congress earlier in the day demanded answers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Parrikar's purported claim and asked if this was the reason why a joint parliamentary committee(JPC) probe was not being ordered.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala came out with a conversation purportedly between Goa minister Vishwajit Rane and another person.

Rane purportedly can be heard saying that during a Goa cabinet meeting last week Parrikar stated he had an entire file and all documents relating to the Rafale deal lying in his bedroom, Surjewala claimed, playing the conversation for the media outside Parliament.

He quoted Rane as saying, "The chief minister made a very interesting statement, that I have all the information of Rafale in my bedroom....that means he is holding them to ransom. He said it is in my bedroom here only in my flat, each and every document on Rafale."

However, there was no confirmation on whether it was the voice of Rane in the audio. The identity of the other person was also not ascertained.

Rane termed the audio clip as "doctored" and fake and told BJP president Amit Shah that he has asked the state government to order an inquiry into the matter.

The BJP has alleged that the Congress is only "peddling lies" on the Rafale issue.

"Now it is clear that the 'chowkidaar is chor' (the watchman is a thief)," Surjewala told reporters targeting Modi.

"Now the prime minister should answer. The country is demanding answers as to what secrets in the Rafale 'scam' are lying inside Manohar Parrikar's flat and bedroom," he claimed, asking why is the 'chowkidaar' fearing Parrikar.

Surjewala claimed the skeletons were tumbling out of the Rafale scam cupboard.

"New evidence busts 'chowkidar's' worst kept secrets. What is Modi government hiding... Is this the reason why a JPC probe is not being ordered," he asked.

Training his guns on Modi, Surjewala said, "this is a personal charge against you".

"There was corruption and wrongdoing in the Rafale scam and it is all recorded in the files. Those files are with Mr Parrikar. Why are they being hidden? If Mr Modi has nothing to hide, then why is Mr Parrikar keeping those files in his bedroom and threatening everybody that nobody can do anything against him, for he has the Rafale files," he alleged.

He said it has now become necessary that the files of Rafale with Parrikar need to come out in public domain.

In the Lok Sabha, Gandhi sought the Speaker's permission to play the audio tape, as he mounted a fresh offensive against Modi on the Rafale issue, saying he does not have "guts" to come to Parliament to confront questions and that he  "hides" in his room.

Amid an uproar, which caused brief adjournment of the House proceedings, Gandhi said he would not play it and authenticate it, prompting Jaitley to say that he was "scared" as he knew it was false.

"This man lies and lies repeatedly," Jaitley said.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan also disallowed Gandhi's request to play the clip.

Gandhi claimed BJP members were "terrified" of the clip.

Rane has already termed the tape "fabricated", Jaitley said.

Hitting back, Parrikar said in a tweet: "The audio clip released by the Congress party is a desperate attempt to fabricate facts after their lies were exposed by the recent Supreme Court verdict on Rafale deal. No such discussion ever came up during Cabinet or any other meeting".

Speaking to reporters in Panaji, Rane accused the Congress of falsely implicating him in the controversy surrounding the Rafale deal through the "fake audio".

Rane said he has asked Parrikar in a letter for a police inquiry into the matter to bring to book the accused behind the audio purportedly featuring him.

"Today's voice note which is being circulated and talked about is absolutely absurd and illogical," he said.

In a letter to Amit Shah, Rane said he never had any conversation with anyone on the Rafale issue and that the purported audio clip is a doctored one.

According to BJP sources, Rane told Shah, "I have also sent a letter to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar asking for an immediate police inquiry and criminal investigation to expose the mischievous elements."

"I would like to...inform the chief minister that there is someone playing mischief and there should be inquiry in this matter and such mischievous elements need to be brought to book," Rane said in the letter to Parrikar.

Rane, a former Congress leader who joined the BJP after 2017 assembly elections and was made a minister, said, "From the time I have joined the BJP the Congress has been targeting me."

He claimed that the Congress had always considered him as a "big threat".

"The voice notes which they are circulating have been made up by the Congress," he alleged.

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