New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday rejected the Congress’ demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Rafale aircraft deal and said the “family” was not above the Supreme Court in a democracy.
Addressing a press conference here with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman hours after the Supreme Court dismissed petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the purchase of 36 Rafale jet fighters, Jaitley said the apex court verdict was absolute and conclusive and the “truth in such matters come from judicial process and not on the basis of political partisan lines”.
“Was there any partiality in the deal? Was nation’s security compromised? Was the due process not followed? Truth in such cases is found through judicial process and not by dividing on partisan basis. Investigations can never be done and reviews of this can never be done by a body of partisan division,” he said.
Jaitley referred to the JPC over Bofors guns deal and said it was divided on political lines and conclusions of its chairman were subsequently rejected by courts.
He did not name Congress President Rahul Gandhi but accused him of spreading lies and attacked him repeatedly.
“In politics all over the world there is a tradition that if you lie, you resign or can be impeached. Presidents have been impeached for speaking lies. At least this should happen. Till yesterday Congress was demanding a discussion on Rafale. Today we said start it immediately. Those who built untruth, they should keep it in Parliament,” he said.
Asked about Gandhi’s allegation of crony capitalism, he said “people not able to understand complex issues rely on such slogans”.
“That is my understanding of his politics,” Jaitley said and termed Gandhi’s allegations of procedures not being followed in the deal as “fiction writing”.
Asked about the Congress stance that judiciary was not the right forum to decide about the deal, Jaitley alleged that the narrative was being created by Nehru-Gandhi family.
“They refuse to accept even the Supreme Court verdict just because of falsehood created by a family. In our democracy, family is not above the Supreme Court. Do they think the untruth of a family is above the Supreme Court?”
He said there was a fundamental difference between truth and falsehood.
“The truth always holds together, explains everything but falsehood was bound to fall apart, indeed it has a short life. In this case, it is few months. Falsehood lowers credibility of creator. The Rafale issue had each of these features. The disrupters have lost and lost on all counts,” he said.
Jaitley said the Congress lost on the count that the need for the fighter jet was “acute and necessary”.
“Why was national security compromised, the need of Indian Air Force compromised,” he asked.
Rejecting charges about the government’s involvement in the award of offsets, he said government had nothing to do with it and Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale fighter jet, had taken the decision.
Asked about the different prices given by the government and by Rahul Gandhi of the Rafale fighter jet, Jaitley said “government is correct and all figures given by Rahul Gandhi are wrong”.
He said the government had stated that the price of basic Rafale fighter was nine per cent cheaper compared to the cost negotiated by the UPA government and that of weaponised aircraft was 20 per cent cheaper at 2016 prices.
He said escalation clauses in the agreement were differently worded and there would be further increase in prices. “Truth only has one version. Falsehood has many,” Jaitley said.
Sitharaman said if the Congress does not stop its allegations, it will also be exposed politically.
The Congress on Friday accused the government of trying to hide its “theft” in the Rafale deal behind the court ruling and persisted with its demand for a JPC inquiry.