High drama in Lok Sabha

Jaitley questions Congress record in defence deals; Rahul contests PM’s claim Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday raised the Congress’s record in defence deals, including the role of Mr. Q and alleged revelations by Christian Michel who took the name of “Mrs Gandhi” in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal. And while the Opposition and Treasury benches faced off, the Lok Sabha witnessed unprecedented scenes of AIADMK MPs climbing and standing on a front row seat with placards and Congress MPs flying paper planes while Mr. Jaitley was speaking. Apart from the Congress, others in the Opposition including the Trinamool Congress, CPI(M), NCP and Biju Janata Dal raised questions on the deal and asked for a closer examination of the facts by Parliament. There were dramatic moments as Congress president Rahul Gandhi sought Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s permission to play a controversial audio clip of a Goa Minister who said Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had all the files on the Rafale deal with him. While the Speaker denied permission, Mr. Jaitley accused the Congress of “manufacturing the audio clip.” He threw an immediate challenge: either Mr. Gandhi must authenticate the audio clip or face expulsion. Opening the debate, Mr. Gandhi countered Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim, in an interview to news agency ANI, that there were no personal allegations against him. The Congress chief said the “whole country” was pointing direct questions at Mr. Modi. Where are the planes? Posing a series of questions, Mr. Gandhi asked why did the government change the UPA’s order of 126 planes to 36 planes, did the Indian Air Force ask it to do so and if it was because of urgency, why not a single Rafale jet had landed in India until now. “He (Modi) spoke for 90 minutes in a staged interview but still did not answer questions on the Rafale issue,” the Congress chief said and reiterated his demand for a JPC. He said Defence Ministry officials had objected to the inflated price of Rs. 1,600 an aircraft that went up from the UPA’s Rs. 526 crore and only a JPC can find the truth as the Supreme Court lacked the jurisdiction. “We demand a JPC probe into the matter. There is no reason for BJP leaders to feel afraid. The country will get to know that Modi put Rs. 30,000 crore in the pockets of ‘double A’. The contract was snatched from HAL (a government-run unit),” Mr. Gandhi said.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/high-drama-in-lok-sabha/article25894596.ece

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