Panaji: The probe into the “missing” Rafale papers should start from Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar who had claimed the files related to the deal were with him, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said.
Parrikar was defence minister when the Rafale deal was signed with France and the Centre has told the Supreme Court some documents related to the multi-billion contract have been “stolen”. Taking potshots at the BJP-led ruling coalition in Goa, Gandhi said like the government has “disappeared” in the coastal state, the Rafale files, too, have gone missing.
The main opposition has been alleging that the BJP-led government in Goa is not functioning properly due to the long absence of ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar from office. Gandhi was addressing booth-level party workers under the banner `Jeet Ki Aur’ near here. “Like the government has disappeared from Goa, the (Rafale) files, too, have disappeared. If you want to inquire then start with Parrikar,” he said.
“Parrikar had told the Cabinet that the Rafale files are with him,” Gandhi said referring to a purported audio conversation between Goa minister Vishwajit Rane and an unidentified caller that had references to the deal. “(Prime Minister) Narendra Modi cannot remove me from the chief minister’s post. The day he removes me, I will show the files. If files have gone missing then probe Parrikar,” Gandhi said, quoting from the audio tape.
Gandhi said Parrikar, who quit as defence minister and became Goa CM in 2017, had told international media that he was not aware of the new Rafale contract. Quoting from a news report on Rafale in one of the national dailies, the Congress president launched an attack on Modi, saying, “Hindustan ke chowkidar ne parallel negotiations kiya.” “Modiji used to say `acche din’ and people (at rallies) used to say `ayenge’, now if you say chowkidar people say `chor hai’. There is no need to say anything,” said the Congress chief.
Recalling the submission made by the Union government before the Supreme Court, Gandhi said, “The Centre told the SC that the (Rafale) files are missing. “The files say chowkidar has escalated the cost of the aircraft. The files have also mentioned that due to Modiji there was a delay in Rafale procurement and it will take 10 more years to get them.” This was Gandhi’s first visit to Goa after being elected Congress president in December 2017. The Congress Friday launched its campaign for the upcoming parliamentary elections with Gandhi’s meeting, which was attended by over 12,000 booth-level workers.