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Congress-BJP dogfight over Rafale intensifies

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Rafale Deal Facts

New Delhi, Sep 23 : The political dogfight over the Rafale deal peaked on Sunday with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley seeking to discredit former France President Francois Hollande’s revelation about choice of the offset partner and even found a link to his claim to Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

Hitting back, the Congress accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of violating the oath of secrecy by revealing details of the pact to his industrialist crony and reiterated its demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the intergovernmental deal with France to purchase 36 Rafale jets.

A day after Gandhi and the Congress came out all guns blazing against Modi, Jaitley cited conflicting media reports on Hollande’s claims and questioned the veracity of the former French President’s remarks that the Modi government had asked them to chose a private firm as the offset partner in the Rafale deal.

“Truth cannot have two versions,” wrote Jaitley in his blogpost citing Hollande’s initial claim to a French website that “Reliance Defence partnership with Dassault Aviation was entered at the suggestion of the Indian Government” and his subsequent statement to news agency AFP that “he is not aware if government ever lobbied for Reliance Defence”.

“The accuracy of the statements made by the individuals may be questioned but circumstances never lie,” said Jaitley, adding that “there is no ‘partnership’, as suggested by the former President.

“His (Hollande) second statement in Montreal, Canada, to AFP makes the veracity of his first statement even more questionable,” said Jaitley maintaining that it was “erroneous for anybody to suggest that there is a partnership in the supply of the 36 Rafale aircraft”.

Jaitley also pointed to a link between Hollande’s claim and a tweet by Gandhi on April 30 saying “It’s (Rafale) also going to drop some big bunker buster bombs in the next couple of weeks.”

“The former French President’s first statement rhymes with Rahul Gandhi’s prediction,” wrote Jaitley asserting Gandhi’s tweet was “no coincidence”.

The Congress which has been gunning for the Modi regime, lost no time in dismissing Jaitley’s assertions as “lies” and demanded the Prime Minister to answer its questions rather than hiding behind his ministers’ defences.

Gandhi in his reply said Jaitley’s specialty was to “spin lies” and “defend the indefensible”.

“It’s high time he, the RM (Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman) and our Prime Minister stop lying and call a JPC to establish the full, uncorrupted truth about the Rafale scam,” he said.

Intensifying the attack senior Congress leader Anand Sharma charged Modi with revealing the details of the intergovernmental deal to industrialist who subsequently became an offset partner instead of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

“The question to the Prime Minister is: how did this information come out that he would go go to France and reverse the deal?” said Sharma referring to Modi’s April 2015 announcement of the deal to purchase 36 jets instead of 126 being negotiated during the erstwhile UPA regime.

“Then Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar had said that the Rafale deal was not on the agenda during Modi’s visit to France. Even the Cabinet Committee on Security, the Indian Air Force, the Cabinet or the Foreign Secretary were not aware.

“Modi violated his oath of secrecy. Only he and none else could have revealed to the private company that he would reverse the deal,” said Sharma while pointing to the incorporation of Reliance Defence Limited just days before Modi visited France in April 2015.

“It’s a conspiracy, only one (Modi) person with knowledge about the new deal — without telling anyone in the Cabinet, or the Ambassador etc — revealed the details to the industrialist and asked him to form a company,” added Sharma.

IANS

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Covid positive staff at PAC meet sparks scare among MPs

Now, calls are being made to all those who attended the meeting, asking them to remain quarantined as a matter of precaution.

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adhir ranjan chowdhury congress

New Delhi, July 14 : In what could spell trouble for different Parliamentary committee meetings which have resumed after almost four months, all those who attended the Department Related Standing Committee for Public Accounts or PAC meet have been advised to go into quarantine after a staff who was present at the meeting tested positive for Covid-19.

Most members like Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury or DMK’s T.R. Baalu, who attended the meet and went back after meeting several people, have been informed about the official who was present at the PAC meet and later tested positive.

The meeting took place on July 10, while the official tested positive on Tuesday, which essentially means that the 18 MPs who attended the meeting carried on with their normal life for the last few days. The PAC has a total of 20 members, out of which 15 are from the Lok Sabha and 5 from the Rajya Sabha.

Among the 18 MPs who attended the meeting were the committee’s chairperson Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, senior DMK leader and former Union Minister T.R. Baalu, BJP’s Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrashekhar, senior BJP leader Bhupender Yadav and Trinamool MP Sukhendu Shekhar Ray, among others.

Now, calls are being made to all those who attended the meeting, asking them to remain quarantined as a matter of precaution.

On Tuesday evening, Rajeev Chandrashekhar tweeted, “Ok, so I came to Delhi. Attended Parliamentary Committee meeting on 10th. Turns out one staff of Committee secretariat has tested COVID positive today. So I am headed to 7 days quarantine.”

With the gradual resumption of different committee meetings, the government is exploring the possibility of convening a short Monsoon Session of the Parliament.

Both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats have explored all the possibilities, including using a substitute venue like Vigyan Bhawan, to ensure seating with “do gaaz ki doori”, but none were big enough to accommodate the entire Parliament together.

With this incident, many parliamentarians believe that the fate of other parliamentary committees and even the Monsoon Session has now become uncertain.

Earlier, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had complained about thin attendance, arguing for a virtual meeting, which both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats have turned down.

Significantly, on Tuesday, two key BJP leaders — MoS Jitendra Singh and party General Secretary Ram Madhav — went into self quarantine after BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir chief Ravinder Raina tested positive for coronavirus.

Just two days back, Raina had accompanied both the leaders to offer condolences to the family of Wasim Bari, a local BJP leader who was killed along with his father and brother by terrorists in Bandipora town in north Kashmir.

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It’s raining resignations in Rajasthan Congress after Pilot’s sacking

High alert has been sounded in Gujjar-dominated areas in Dausa, Ajmer, Tonk, Sawai Madhopur and Bharatpur to avert any untoward incident.

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Sachin Pilot

Jaipur, Jul 14 : Soon after Sachin Pilot was removed as Deputy Chief Minister and Pradesh Congress Committee president, Rajasthan NSUI president Abhimanyu Poonia on Tuesday also tendered his resignation.

Poonia said that around 400-500 members holding certain posts in the Youth Congress, National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) and Seva Dal have resigned to protest against the development.

Meanwhile, over 50 Congressmen have also resigned in Tonk, Pilot’s home constituency in Rajasthan to protest against his sacking.

District Congress President of Pali Chunnilal Chadwas has also resigned from the party.

Meanwhile, Pilot in a tweet said: “My heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all those who have come out in my support today. Ram Ram sa.”

Retweeting the post, Poonia said: “We will defeat slavery and will make the struggle win (hamein gulaami ko harana hai aur sangharsh ko jitana hai) #RajasthanKaPilot.”

He said that he resigned from the post in support of Sachin Pilot. “Our conscience is alive, so is our self-respect. #SachinPilotkesaath,” he said on Twitter.

The Congress on Tuesday sacked Sachin Pilot from the posts of Rajasthan’s deputy chief minister as well as the party’s state unit chief and also cracked the whip on the rebel party leader, removing his loyalists Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena from the state cabinet.

Meanwhile, protests were staged in many pockets of Gujjar dominated areas as Pilot is a favourite of the community.

High alert has been sounded in Gujjar-dominated areas in Dausa, Ajmer, Tonk, Sawai Madhopur and Bharatpur to avert any untoward incident.

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Congress suspends Sanjay Jha for ‘anti-party activities’

However, a terse statement announced that he was being suspended with immediate effect for “anti-party activities and breach of discipline”, which were not specified.

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Sanjay Jha

Mumbai, July 14 : In an abrupt development, Maharashtra Congress President Balasaheb Thorat on Tuesday suspended former party spokesperson Sanjay Jha for “anti-party activities”.

Jha, who was the Congress spokesperson and was known for his outspokenness, was sacked as the party spokesman in June for a newspaper article critical of the party.

However, a terse statement announced that he was being suspended with immediate effect for “anti-party activities and breach of discipline”, which were not specified.

In recent weeks, Jha has been in the limelight for his articles, tweets, comments etc., many of which were interpreted as anti-Congress for questioning the party leadership.

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