Congress president Rahul Gandhi has expressed surprise if Narendra Modi had forgotten he was now the Prime Minister of the country. “I can understand Modiji talking about the Congress and its performance in the last 70 years in 2014. Has he forgotten he is Prime Minister now? He is not an Opposition leader,” Rahul said, after the Prime Minister’s reply to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President’s address.
Rahul continued: “He can talk about the Congress in public meetings. But in Parliament he has to answer questions. He boasts of fighting corruption. He should answer a simple question: Rafale mein chori hui ya nahi?” (Was there corruption in the Rafale deal?). Sonia Gandhi voiced similar sentiments, saying: “The Prime Minister said nothing new. He is repeating old things, people are interested about their jobs, they want to know about their future.”
Rahul said: “Why did he not answer the questions on Rafale? The Prime Minister is defending those who indulged in corruption in this deal.” After the government issued a statement on the deal, Rahul responded with a two-page statement. “We have three fundamental questions: Did the Prime Minister get the necessary clearances from the CCS before he negotiated and committed to the purchase of Rafale aircraft in France? How much did the PM agree to pay for each aircraft? Why did the PM bypass HAL and prefer to favour a private entity with no previous defence production experience?” it said.
The statement added, “The Raksha Mantri had earlier committed to answering all these questions. She has now reneged on that commitment. And the Prime Minister has nothing to say. Instead, the Prime Minister chooses to take credit for purchasing cheaper solar panels and cheaper gas, when it is widely known that the international prices of these have plummeted in recent years.” Arguing that the “visionless speech” lacked the “gravitas or maturity” expected of a Prime Minister, Rahul said: “The truth is the Prime Minister does not know how to take India forward. That is why he always reaches into the past. We are happy with the Prime Minister to be obsessed with the Congress but it is a disservice for our Prime Minister to spend so much time on the Congress and so little on the future of the nation.” Apart from jobs and agriculture that he mentioned earlier, the Congress president added the frequent ceasefire violations by Pakistan and the Chinese build-up at Doklam to the list of “critical problems.” “The security of our nation is in peril… The nation has reposed its trust in the Prime Minister. It expects the Prime Minister to respond with seriousness towards its problems,” he said.