Rising in defence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi against Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s accusations over the Rafale deal, Union minister Arun Jaitley launched a scathing attack on the grand old party for trying to “sustain a sinking dynast” by “peddling lies”.
Earlier in the day during a press conference, Gandhi accused Modi of acting like a middleman of businessman Anil Ambani in the Rafale deal after a media report stated that Ambani met French defence officials before the PM announced the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France.
“Only Modi could have told Ambani about the deal in advance. He is under oath. He compromised national security. He does what a spy does. He gave defence information to someone else,” he said.
Ambani had met the French defence minister days before the signing of the deal during Modi's visit to France in 2015, Gandhi said, quoting from an e-mail written by an Airbus executive to a French official.
Citing an e-mail to claim that Ambani was aware of the MoU before India and France signed it, Gandhi said that it was a violation of the Official Secrets Act and Modi should be “put in jail as it amounts to treason”.
The Congress president also rejected the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the Rafale deal, and dubbed it "Chowkidar Auditor General" report.
Jaitley, in a Facebook post, rejected allegations of conflict of interest of CAG Rajiv Mehrishi saying he never dealt with any file or paper relating to the fighter jet deal during his tenure in the finance ministry in 2014-15.
“How many more lies will be peddled to sustain a sinking dynast? India, certainly deserves better,” Jaitley said in a Facebook post titled ‘How Many Lies Need to be Peddled to Sustain a Sinking Dynasty?’.
Stating that the contagion effect of falsehood is fairly large, Jaitley said the lies spread by the Congress have spread to other colleagues in the "Mahajhootbandhan".
"In relation to the Rafale deal where thousands of crores of public money has been saved, a new falsehood is manufactured on a daily basis. The latest is in relation to the present CAG and his participation in the decision making process of Rafale," Jaitley said.
In 2014-15, present CAG Mehrishi was economic affairs secretary in the finance ministry, and being the senior-most bureaucrat was also designated as the finance secretary.
“I say this without fear of contradiction that no file or paper relating to the Rafale transaction ever reached him nor was he in any way, directly or indirectly, associated with the decision making on defence purchases. Expenditure to be incurred on purchases by various departments of the Government needs the approval of Secretary (Expenditure)," he said.
Asking as to why then a lie in relation to the CAG having a non-existent conflict of interest is being raised, Jaitley said, “the dynast knows that his 500 crore vs 1600 crore kindergarten argument was a fictional story. No one would ever buy it because facts don't support it. Even before the contents of CAG report are known, a Peshbandi attack on the institution of the CAG is launched," Jaitley said.
Without naming Gandhi, Jaitley said "the dynast" and his friends have in the past even attacked the Supreme Court when it rejected the writ petition on Rafale.
He said the entire pricing argument of the Congress was factually wrong and the procedure argument that there was no Defence Acquisition Council, no CCS, no Contract Negotiation Committee was a blatant lie.
"The Rs 30,000 crore favour to a private company is non-existent. The use of sliced document by a newspaper is unprecedented in the history. The use of an incomplete document is certainly not in consonance with the spirit of free speech.
“The ‘no integrity pact’ argument is belied by the fact that even in earlier purchases through inter-governmental agreement with Russia and the United States, such pacts were not there. Now without a shred of evidence, a fictional conflict of interest of the CAG is invented," he said.
Jaitley said truth is both precious and sacrosanct and in mature democracies those who deliberately rely on falsehood are banished from public life.
"In modern world dynasties inherently have their limitations. Aspirational societies abhor kingdoms. They insist on accountability and performance. But the grand old party of Indian politics has sadly become a captive of a dynasty. Many of its senior leaders lack the courage and moral authority to advise the dynasts to change course.
"This trend started in early 1970s; climaxed during the Emergency and has continued ever since. The 'slave' mentality of senior leaders convinces them that they must only sing the song scripted by the dynast. A contrarian opinion will cost them their political career. When the dynast speaks lies, they all join the chorus," Jaitley said.