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Rafale deal: Rahul Gandhi fires fresh salvo at PM Modi in poll-bound MP, repeats 'suit-boot' jibe

"The prime minister does not have the courage to reply why the offset contract for the French aircraft was "snatched" from the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and instead, given to Ambani's firm," Gandhi said today.

Edited by: India TV News Desk, New Delhi [ Updated: October 25, 2018 19:46 IST ]

Rahul Gandhi in Madhya Pradesh

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, on a campaign trail in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, fired a fresh salvo at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday and yet again questioned him over the multi-billion dollar Rafale jet deal.

"The prime minister does not have the courage to reply why the offset contract for the French aircraft was "snatched" from the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and instead, given to Ambani's firm," Gandhi said today.

He alleged that the PM ensured the offset contract to Anil Ambani, "who owes Rs 45,000 crore to public sector banks".

"The prime minister could not look me in the eye (during debate in Parliament). The PM gives speeches but no answers...he doesn't have the courage to reply as to why the contract was snatched from HAL and given to Anil Ambani."

Led by the Congress, the Opposition parties have been attacking the Modi government alleging it is procuring 36 Rafale jets from France at an exorbitantly high cost.

The Modi government has denied allegations of irregularities in Rafale deal and Amban, too, has dismissed the Congress's allegations that he got any undue benefit.

The Congress chief also alleged that Prime Narendra Modi disregards the poor but has close proximity to businessmen like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi.

"Prime Minister addresses Mehul Choksi as Mehul bhai (brother), Nirav Modi as Nirav bhai and Anil Ambani as Anil bhai but he never addresses a labourer, a poor and a farmer as bhai or hugs them. There is no place for them in his heart. One who doesn't wear suit-boot is not a bhai for him," Gandhi said addressing a public gathering here in Madhya Pradesh.

He charged the prime minister does not speak when Dalits and minorities are attacked in Gujarat or on atrocities against women and the weaker sections.

The PM had said before the 2014 polls that he wanted to be a "chowkidar" (guard), but only 15-20 industrialists of the country benefitted under his government, instead of

farmers, he alleged.

"The prime minister let jeweller Nirav Modi escape with Rs 35,000 crore, which is equal to the entire budget of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)," Gandhi further charged.

He was referring to the PNB banking fraud allegedly involving Nirav Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi and others.

Gandhi also accused Narendra Modi of "insulting every Indian by mocking the governance of other parties during 70 years, before the BJP-led NDA came to power.

"From the Red Fort, Modi (during his Independence Day speech) said the country was sleeping before he took over as country's prime minister. This is not an insult to Congress leaders. This is insult of the country's people," Gandhi said.

There was no infrastructure, road, rail line, university or college when the country got independence, he said.

"Your (people's) ancestors, who worked hard to develop this country. This is an insult to farmers, labourers, youths, small traders and people who toiled hard to build this country. This is an insult to your mother and father," he told the gathering.

Taking a dig at the ruling party over the issue of women's safety, he said, "The BJP gave a good slogan 'Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao' (save and educate daughters).

"But in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi saved a rape accused BJP MLA. The PM didn't speak a word," he alleged.

"There is a need now to save our daughters from BJP MLAs," he said in remarks laced with sarcasm.

Gandhi said Congress workers are the party's backbone and they would be given priority once the party comes to power in Madhya Pradesh.

He also said that loans of farmers would be waived off in 10 days if the Congress comes to power in the state after the next Assembly elections.

Gandhi is on a two-day visit to the central state which will go to polls on November 28.

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(With PTI inputs)

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