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Give answers on Rafale instead of whataboutery, Congress tells BJP



Rafale deal scam

New Delhi, Oct 12 : Dismissing the ruling BJPs latest bid to defend the Rafale deal, the Congress on Friday demanded that the Modi government give “factual answers about irregularities in the deal instead of indulging in whataboutery”.

Soon after Railways Minister Piyush Goyal accused Congress President Rahul Gandhi of “spreading falsehood and lies” over the deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets, the party questioned why the NDA government was shying away from a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe.

The Congress also sought answers over the issues of “corruption and irregularities” in the deal announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2015.

“One after the other, BJP ministers keep coming up with different justifications without answering any of the basic questions that the Congress has been raising since the deal was announced. Instead of giving factual answers to our questions they indulge in whataboutery,” Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera told the media here.

“The country doesn’t want adjectives for Rahul Gandhi or what his father did or his mother did. The country wants answers on the Rafale deal, which the BJP and the government has been unable to give,” said Khera.

Ridiculing Gandhi’s Thursday charges of corruption against Modi, Goyal called him a “serial liar”.

The Union Minister’s remarks came in the wake of Rafale-maker Dassault Aviation’s CEO Eric Trappier saying that the company’s joint venture with Reliance represents only about 10 per cent of the offset obligations in the jets deal and it was in negotiations with about a 100 Indian companies.

Khera said that the BJP was trying to “defend the indefensible” and reiterated its demand for a JPC probe.

“They keep coming with one or the other justification. Every time, their lies are exposed. They continue to hide behind the confidentiality clause when the fact is that both Dassault and Reliance, in their annual reports, have revealed the price of the jets.

“They denied any hand in the ouster of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) from the deal but were exposed again when Trappier said that their agreement with HAL was on track. Further, HAL ex-chief T.S. Raju too said that the Indian aircraft maker had entered into a work-share agreement with Dassault,” said Khera.

“Why does the government shiver over a JPC. Let them submit to it all the questions which we and the country have been raising. Their lies have been exposed every time but they continue to refuse to give factual answers to any of the questions raised,” added Khera.

The Congress has twice petitioned the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for a special and forensics audit and also moved the Central Vigilance Commission seeking a probe and seizure of deal documents.

Besides questioning the “inflated” price of the jets, the Congress has also been targeting the Centre over the propriety of a newly-founded private company getting the Rs 30,000-crore Rafale offset contract at the cost of the state-owned HAL.

Following fresh revelations in the French media over the choice of offset partner, Gandhi on Thursday called Modi “corrupt” and asked him to quit if he failed to respond to the charges.


Why Mallya’s extradition order a victory, asks Rahul

The verdict came six days after British national and middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, Christian Michael, was extradited to India from Dubai.



Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, Dec 11 : Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday questioned the BJP-led government for terming the ruling of a British court to extradite fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya to India as a “great day” and said there was no major victory as he had “stolen” Rs 9,000 crore.

“Why is that a major victory, why are they taking it as a major victory? The question here is the following: the farmers of this country are committing suicide daily, they do not have access to the Indian banking system. Vijay Mallya stole Rs 9,000 crore,” Gandhi replied to a question when asked that BJP government is claiming victory over the decision of the UK court allowing Mallya’s extradition.

He was addressing the media at Parliament House Annexe after an all-party meeting.

“Nirav Modi has stolen Rs 35,000 crore with his friend Mehul Choksi, who are close to the Prime Minister and the list goes on. So, it is not question of Vijay Mallya being extradited, it is the question of the Indian banking system being handed over to Modi’s friends…it’s called crony capitalism,” Gandhi added.

Gandhi’s remarks came after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley welcomed the UK court’s judgement, calling it a “great day for India”.

The Westminster Magistrates’ Court in the UK on Monday gave its ruling following a prolonged litigation involving Mallya, who fled India in March 2016, that he must be extradited to India where he is accused of committing bank frauds amounting to Rs 9,000 crore.

The verdict came six days after British national and middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, Christian Michael, was extradited to India from Dubai.

Mallya has, however, repeatedly denied fleeing India and said he was ready to pay back the money he owed to Indian banks.

Proceedings are on before the Mumbai Special Court against Mallya under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.

Late in 2017, India filed extradition proceedings against Mallya which he has contested. He is currently on bail in London.

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Founding fathers envisaged Ram Rajya, Modi govt working for it: Amit Shah



New Delhi, Dec 10 :Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Monday said the founding fathers of the nation had envisaged to establish a “Ram Rajya” and the Narendra Modi government is working to make it possible.

“One of the stated goals set by the Constituent Assembly for the newly established Republic of India was to have ‘Kalyan Rajya’,” Shah said at the release of the book “Narendra Modi: Creative Disruptor” penned by R. Balashankar.

“Some people translate ‘Kalyan Rajya’ as ‘welfare state’. But if you go through the debates in the Constituent Assembly, you will find the word Kalyan Rajya has not been used in the sense of a welfare state. In fact, the word has been used as an alternative to ‘Ram Rajya’ in order to avoid this word at that time,” Shah said.

Stating that a “yugantkari parivartan” (epoch-making change) has come ever since Modi became the Prime Minister, Shah said the Indian politics was suffering from festering wounds of “casteism, dynastic rule and appeasement”.

“This is the first non-Congress government that has got full majority and has ended that era. The mandate has been given to not run the government but to change the nation. And we are doing that,” he added.

Shah said the Modi government also ended several dilemmas that plagued the earlier governments, such as “if the government would work for farmers or industrialists, if it would work for the villages or the cities or it would work for the poor or the rich”.

“Our government ended these dilemmas. It brought unprecedented reforms but it did not lose the sight of Kalyan Rajya,” Shah said.

Taking a dig at the Congress governments, the BJP President said the Modi government stayed away from populist measures and took tough decisions in the interest of the country.

He also accused the Congress Prime Ministers of doing “injustice” to national security by “overstating” that India was a peace-loving country, for the sake of building “personal image” (that of a peacenik).

In an apparent jibe at former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Shah said: “You may be an economist. We respect that. But the country is being more efficiently run by a ‘chaiwala’ (tea vendor, an allusion to Modi).”

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Leaders of 21 parties resolve to work together to defeat BJP in 2019 Polls

The leaders accused the Narendra Modi government of trying to put “a conspiratorial lid over multiple corruption scams” like Rafale and becoming “an abettor to the escape of bank defaulters”.




New Delhi, Dec 10 : Senior leaders of 21 opposition parties including the Congress, Trinamool Congress, TDP, AAP, NCP and the DMK met here on Monday and resolved to work together to “defeat the BJP-RSS” in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and to expose the ruling party’s “corruption”.

The leaders, who included UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and H.D. Deve Gowda, Chief Ministers Mamata Banerjee, N. Chandrababu Naidu and Arvind Kejriwal, NCP leader Sharad Pawar and DMK leader M.K. Stalin, did not specifically talk of a grand alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls but said they will come out over the next few months with “a programme of work” anchored in complete transparency and accountability.

The meeting, which took place a day before the start of the winter session and before the results of assembly polls in five states, was not attended by the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party.

In a joint statement later, the “leaders of secular parties” reaffirmed their steadfast resolve to “confront and defeat the forces that are subverting our Constitution and making a mockery of our democracy”.

They talked of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and said “innumerable deficiencies, failures and plausible doubts” on their neutral functioning have raised “a question on the neutrality of poll process itself” and this needs to be redressed without question and without delay.

“It is in the interests of safeguarding and strengthening our constitutional republic and people’s livelihood that this Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)/ Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is ousted,” the statement said.

The groundwork for the meeting had been done by TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, who had left the ruling National Democratic Alliance earlier this year. He has been meeting leaders of various parties to bring them together against the BJP-led NDA in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Similar efforts have been made in Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the past.

The leaders accused the Narendra Modi government of trying to put “a conspiratorial lid over multiple corruption scams” like Rafale and becoming “an abettor to the escape of bank defaulters”.

The meeting was informed in-between that Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel had resigned and the leaders accused the government of a “sinister attack on the autonomy of RBI”.

“We deprecate the systematic attack by the government on India’s economy through a select band of government nominees arbitrarily dictating the monitory policies and compromising RBI’s institutional integrity,” the statement said.

National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah, CPI-M General Secretary Sitram Yechury, Nationalist Congress Party’s Praful Patel, Janata Dal-Secular leader Danish Ali, All India United Democratic Front’s Badruddin Azmal, Muslim League’s P.K. Kulhanikutty, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik)’s Babulal Marandi, Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Ajit Singh, Loktantrik Janata Dal’s Sharad Yadav, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, CPI’s D. Raja, Revolutionary Socialist Party’s N.K. Premchandran and Hindustani Awam Morcha’s Jitan Ram Manjhi were also at the meeting.

The leaders said India needs a government that cares for working class, farmers and farm labourers, makes education accessible and affordable, creates jobs, provides fair wages, empowers weaker sections, respects autonomy of institutions, ensures faster and inclusive economic growth, addresses concerns of small traders and enterprises that have been “devastated by demonetisation and the ill- planned implementation of GST”.

The leaders said there is need to banish the current all-pervasive atmosphere of fear and intimidation and called upon liberal, progressive forces to join them in their battle to save the Constitution.

They accused the Modi government of benefiting crony capitalists and re-imagining the past.

Gandhi later told reporters that there was “consensus that BJP’s corruption in Rafale, demonetisation and other areas is simply not acceptable and we are going to fight it and do whatever we can to expose it”. There was a consensus that we are going to work together to defeat the BJP-RSS combination, he added.

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