Smriti Irani, Rahul Gandhi

Kolkata: Union minister Smriti Irani Monday alleged the “lies” of Congress president Rahul Gandhi on the issue of Rafale deal have been exposed and accused the opposition party of trying to malign the country’s defence establishment.

Addressing a press conference here, Smriti Irani said the Congress chief should reveal his source of information for allegations regarding the fighter jet deal and his party should give answers to the people of the country.

The Union minister was speaking as part of the BJP‘s move to hold press conferences in 70 cities across the country to attack the opposition party against the backdrop of the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Rafale jet deal last week.

“The lies of Congress and its party president Rahul Gandhi has been exposed. Rahul Gandhi should reveal his source of information. In the matter of national security, efforts have been made to malign the country internationally.

“Under whose inspiration, the Congress had conspired to ensure that India does not get fighter jets? They should give answers to the people of this country,” Smriti Irani said. She alleged the Congress is trying to play with the national security and is spreading lies to mislead the people.

“The Congress has not only spread lies but has also tried to malign the Indian Air Force and the defence establishment. The Congress has tried to stand in the way of strengthening our forces,” Smriti Irani said.

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the pleas challenging the deal between India and France for procurement of 36 Rafale jets saying there was no occasion to “really doubt the decision making process” warranting setting aside of the contract.

The Congress has repeatedly criticised the deal for the 36 Rafale jets, alleging that the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government.

The government has, however, denied any irregularity in the deal.

Gandhi had Friday claimed the Supreme Court in its verdict cited a report submitted by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), but no such report was given to the panel headed by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.

Congress national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala has also asked the central government to come out clean on this issue.

A day after the judgement, the government had on Saturday moved the Supreme Court seeking correction in the Rafale jet order where a reference has been made about the CAG report and the PAC, saying “misinterpretation” of its note has “resulted in a controversy in the public domain”.

In the application, the Centre said it did not say that the CAG report was examined by PAC or a redacted portion was placed before Parliament. It clarified that the note had said the Government “has already shared” the price details with the CAG, which was written in past tense and “is factually correct”.

When asked to react on Surjewala’s demand, Smriti Irani said the government has placed before the Supreme Court the details of pricing, negotiations, offset policy and what would be the procedures if the CAG looks into it.

“The central government on behalf of the defence ministry has placed all the details before the Supreme court… I would like to ask Mr Surjewala that instead of spreading lies on this issue for last one year why didn’t they move Supreme Court with those details.

“They didn’t go to court as they are not interested in truth or nation-building, they are only interested in defeating those who are involved in nation building,” Smriti Irani alleged.

There was no substantial evidence of commercial favouritism to any private entity, the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had said on the issue of an offset partner in its ruling on a batch of petitions.