Kamal Haasan demands probe into Rafale deal?

Actor-turned politician Kamal Haasan has said that an investigation should be carried out to answer questions that are being raised over the Rafale deal.

Speaking to media persons on Friday, Haasan said that at a time when suspicions are being raised against the central government’s conduct, the best way out is to order an investigation that will answer all questions.

“There are a lot of allegations and suspicions [about the Rafale deal]. An investigation must be ordered. If one is innocent, there is nothing to fear,” he said.

The Modi government is facing criticism from the Opposition over alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal with French defence manufacturing giant Dassault Aviation.

The Congress has been accusing the central government of nepotism and said that it gave special preference to Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence over other competitors for an offset contract with Dassault. The second criticism is about the alleged price escalation of the Rafale fighter jets from the UPA-era deal.

The chief of the Makkal Needhi Mayam also attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party for the rise in fuel prices. Haasan said the continuous rise in fuel prices is resulting in the hike in prices of other commodities too.

“The central government is more responsible for this [than the state government]. When the BJP was in the Opposition, the party had protested against hike in fuel prices. Why is not doing anything now?” he asked.

Source: India Today

Shatrughan Sinha Appeals To PM Narendra Modi On Rafale Deal: “Sir Ji, Break Your Silence”

NEW DELHI: For the second time in less than a week, BJP parliamentarian Shatrughan Sinha has asked the government to clear the air on the multi-million dollar Rafale fighter jet deal, which has been caught in a political slugfest. Today, in a tweet, Mr Sinha asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his silence and contradict former French president Francois Hollande, who had dropped a bombshell last week on the deal for the 36 Rafale jets.

“Sir ji! Please break your silence and contradict former French President Hollande (since both of you were present in meeting)….otherwise people will think he is speaking the truth,” Shatrughan Sinha, who has been consistently critical of his party’s government, tweeted.

Last week, a French publication had quoted Mr Hollande as saying that the Indian government had proposed Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the offset partner for the Rs. 58,000 crore Rafale deal.

Mr Hollande’s remarks have been denied by both the French government and Dassault, the maker of the Rafale jets.

The opposition has been alleging that PM Modi sealed the deal without any transparency and how it benefitted Anil Ambani. The Anil Ambani-led group is manufacturing aerospace components as part of the offset component of the Rafale deal. The clause requires Rafale manufacturer Dassault to ensure that business worth around Rs. 30,000 crores is generated for the Indian defence system. Reliance Defence is not making components for the Rafales ordered by India but is building assemblies for Dassault business jets.

On Saturday, Mr Sinha, 72, had asked the government to come clean on the fighter jet deal.

“The statement has come from a person who was not only a former France president but the one under whom the (Rafale) deal was sealed. Some questions have arisen from it, which need to be answered,” Mr Sinha, the lawmaker from Bihar’s Patna Sahib seat, had said in the presence of Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh.

“People are questioning why an experienced company like HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) was set aside and a new company (Reliance Defence) got the opportunity (for offset contract under the deal),” the actor-turned-politician had added.

The deal to buy Rafale fighters was signed by the NDA government with France in 2016 after the previous Congress government’s negotiations were scrapped. The Congress-led UPA’s plan was to buy 18 off-the-shelf jets from France’s Dassault Aviation, with 108 others being assembled in India by the HAL in Bengaluru. But according to the new deal, India would buy 36 ready-to-fly Rafale jets.

Mr Sinha’s comments were criticized by fellow party parliamentarian RK Sinha on Monday, who accused him of siding with opposition leaders like Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Yadav.

“You should first decide where you stand. With Modi or against Modi. The people of the country will settle the account accordingly,” RK Sinha had said on his Facebook page.

Mr Sinha, called Shotgun for his acerbic comments that consistently attack his own party, has had an uneasy relationship with the BJP for a few years and often cribs that the party, under PM Modi and Amit Shah, had relegated him to the spectator seats in Bihar.

Source: NDTV

Rafale Deal: Technical HODs at Dassault Aviation claim Reliance Defence was never the first choice, decision to drop HAL was taken by CEO Eric Trappier at the last minute

In complete contradiction to what an official press statement from the French aviation giant Dassault Aviation, manufacturers of the Rafale fighter aircraft say, two top technical heads at Dassault Aviation (DA) have claimed in an exclusive interview with IndiaScoops.com, that the entire technical staff team at Dassault Aviation were unhappy with the move to drop the Indian PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and go ahead with Reliance Defence Ltd.

Speaking to IndiaScoops.com on phone, the two internal experts pointed out that there was a discussion between officials at DA and several emails were exchanged over a period of 7-8 days. The entire technical team wanted to work with HAL, but the decision was overruled by the top DA management headed by CEO Eric Trappier at the last minute.

Also Read: GOI told us take Reliance or No Deal: Former top Hollande aide stands by ex-President’s statements on Rafale

“We were sure we would be working with HAL and not any other Indian company. At least a 100 emails went to and fro from different departments at DA on the issue. At the last minute, we were informed that HAL was dropped and a new Indian company with whom we had never worked before and which had no expertise in manufacturing fighter aircraft was selected for the job. The entire technical team and our team heads and HODs were shocked. It was a bolt from the blue. But we had to follow instructions. At the end of the day, it’s profitability for the company that matters and if the top management decided to work with Reliance Defence, we had to toe the line. We all knew that the new company had no expertise, no experience. Internally, this issue was discussed among the technical HODs on email and several emails went to and fro. But it was CEO Eric Trappier and a couple of other officials’ at DA who took the decision to go with Reliance Defence,” the officials told IndiaScoops.com.

The decision to drop HAL and go with Reliance Defence Ltd was that of CEO Eric Trappier and two others who mysteriously refused to listen to any advice of the departmental HODs and selected Reliance on the grounds that the deal would be scrapped, they told IndiaScoops.com in an exclusive interview.

“We were told the Indian government would have scrapped the deal if Reliance was not taken on board. (Read Here) Scrapping the deal would mean losses for the company and hence the top management headed by CEO Eric Trappier  took the decision to work with Reliance, even though the in-house technical HODs had vetoed working with a new company having no experience and expertise – this was the official explanation given to the team. The technical HODs told the Dassault Aviation top management that handing over the contract to a new company would compromise and jeopardize the technology and equipment as well as be hazardous for the over-all image of DA as a world-class manufacturer of fighter aircraft. This has been put in writing on several emails, but the final decision by CEO Eric Trappier and two others  was in favor of Reliance Defence,” they told IndiaScoops.com.

IndiaScoops.com has with held the names of the officials concerned to protect their identity as “confidential sources” primarily as they are not authorized by DA to speak to the media, given the fact they head vital technical teams at DA and revealing their identity would violate their employment contracts and also prevent us from accessing further information.

Dassault, one of the world’s most established and experienced defence manufacturers, picked Anil Ambani’s debt-ridden firm as a partner in India, “because it was registered with the MCA (Ministry of Corporate Affairs) and had land in Nagpur which provided access to the runway,” said top sources at the French firm, in a damage control move, speaking to NDTV on the condition of anonymity.

As justification, those reasons are unlikely to tamp down the opposition’s allegations that Anil Ambani benefited from brazen crony capitalism in a massive $8.6 billion deal for India’s purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France, a deal that was negotiated personally and then announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016 during a visit to Paris, reports NDTV.

According to an Economic Times (ET) report, the French government has said it was in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners for the multi-billion dollar Rafale fighter jet deal as former French president Francois Hollande’s reported comments that New Delhi proposed Reliance Defence as the Indian partner for the contract escalated the political row over it.

While the French government said French companies have the full freedom to select Indian firms for the deal, Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale, said it had made the decision to partner with Reliance Defence Ltd, reported ET.

Both the French government and French aerospace company Dassault issued separate and varying statements following a French media report which quoted Hollande as saying that the Indian government proposed Reliance Defence as the partner for French aerospace giant in the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale deal and France did not have a choice.

The sensational comments quoted to Hollande by French publication ‘Mediapart’ gave a new twist to the controversy as the Indian government has been maintaining it was not officially aware of whom the Dassault Aviation has selected as its Indian partner to fulfill offset obligations of the deal.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the procurement of a batch of 36 Rafale jets after holding talks with then French President Hollande on April 10, 2015 in Paris.

“The French government is in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners who have been, are being, or will be selected by French companies,” the French government said in its statement as quoted by ET.

NDTV reported that Hollande’s office said he stood by his earlier remarks and statements made to Mediapart.

Hollande’s comments drew sharp reactions from the opposition parties in India, which have been accusing the government of massive irregularities in the deal and benefiting Reliance Defence Ltd (RDL) despite not having any experience in the aerospace sector.

According to a report in The Hindu, the former French President Francois Hollande claimed that the Indian government suggested industrialist Anil Ambani’s company as the offset partner for the €7.87 billion deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets. Hollande was the French President at the time the deal was signed in 2015.

He told a French news outlet, Mediapart.fr, on Friday that his government didn’t have “a choice” in the selection of Reliance Defence, the company owned by Anil Ambani.

“It is the Indian government which has proposed this service group and it is Dassault that has negotiated with Ambani. We didn’t have a choice, we took the interlocutor that was given to us,” he was quoted as saying.

Repeated assertions
His comments fly in the face of repeated assertions made at the highest level of the Indian government that it was Dassault Aviation (DA) that selected Reliance Defence as its offset partner. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said “no offset contract has been signed so far” and an agreement between two companies did not require the permission of the government.

“As per the applicable guidelines, DA is free to select the Indian offset Partners and provide their details at the time of seeking offset credits, or one-year prior to the discharge of offset obligation,” the government had stated.

Responding to Hollande’s comments, the Defence Ministry tweeted that the statement was being “verified.” “It is reiterated that neither [the] Government of India nor [the] French Government had any say in the commercial decision,” the Ministry said in a tweet.

In September 2016, India and France signed a €7.87 bn agreement for 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition. The deal includes aircraft, spares, weapons, maintenance and performance guarantee for five years. The deal has a 50% offset clause to be executed by DA and its partners. Under this, DA and Reliance Defence have set up a joint venture to manufacture aerospace components.

In a recent interview Ms. Sitharaman denied any government role in the choice of offset partner in the Rafale deal.

She had said, “Isn’t that a decision of a commercial enterprise to take on its own? I have nothing to do with it. I have not prompted them, not led them, not told them, not instructed them. I have not done any match-making whatsoever.”

The Reliance Group had stated that it got the offset contract from DA and did not receive any contract from the Defence Ministry till date.

with inputs from The Hindu and The Economic Times

Rafale deal: It’s a surgical strike on defence forces by Modi, Anil Ambani, says Rahul Gandhi

Upping the ante on the Rafale issue, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Anil Ambani jointly carried out a “surgical strike” on the defence forces.

His renewed attack on Modi came a day after a French media report quoted former French president Francois Hollande as purportedly saying that the Indian government proposed Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the partner for Dassault Aviation in the ₹58,000 crore Rafale jet fighter deal and France did not have a choice.

The PM and Anil Ambani jointly carried out … SURGICAL STRIKE on the Indian Defence forces. Modi Ji you dishonored the blood of our martyred soldiers. Shame on you. You betrayed India’s soul (sic),” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

Modi had announced the procurement of a batch of 36 Rafale jets after holding talks with then French President Hollande on April 10, 2015 in Paris.

Source: PTI

Will Teach Modi Government A Lesson: MK Stalin After Taking Charge Of DMK

CHENNAI: MK Stalin stepped into his father M Karunanidhi’s shoes today, formally taking over as the chief of the DMK, with a call to arms for his party men. “My dream is to oppose who give a religious colour to everything… We will teach a lesson to the Narendra Modi government,” said the new party chief.

The 65-year-old, who has been handling the party for more than a year, also set a closer target. “Let’s throw away the corrupt government in Tamil Nadu,” said the leader, who took charge three weeks after his father’s death.

The ceremony took place at the DMK headquarters, where black-and-red party flags and drumbeats brought a festive air for the first time since Mr Karunanidhi’s health took a turn for the worse more than a month ago. After the meeting, Mr Stalin visited his father’s memorial on Chennai’s Marina Beach to seek his blessings.

Looking back at the 49 years of Karunanidhi’s leadership, Mr Stalin said, “I never dreamt that I would lead the party. It is a huge responsibility… I don’t say I would lead. Let’s do it together. Let’s question all including ourselves if we go wrong”.

The DMK — which has taken turns with arch-rival J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK to share power in the state for decades — has now set its sight on national politics. Over the last months, Mr Stalin has been a vocal part of the opposition that’s trying to cobble together a front to take on the BJP in the national elections next year.

“Today’s political situation has come as a grave challenge. Education, art, literature, religion are under attack by authoritative and communal forces. The Union government is trying to destabilise judiciary, selection of governors. All this has dealt a blow to the secular principles,” Mr Stalin said. Under the BJP, even the rights of state governments were being trampled upon, he added.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and other opposition leaders including Mamata Banerjee congratulated Mr Stalin on his elevation. “Congratulations to Shri M K Stalin on being elected President of the DMK. I wish him happiness & success as he begins a new chapter in his political journey,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

Source: NDTV

PMO In RTI Reply Rejects Charge That PM Modi’s Yoga Day Fitness Video Cost Rs 35 Lakh

New Delhi: No expenditure was incurred on the making of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fitness video in June, the PMO has said in an RTI reply, according to a PTI report.

On June 13, a week before the Yoga day, Modi posted his fitness video on Twitter in which he was seen stretching on a rock, walking barefoot on a narrow path and doing yoga, wearing a black jogging dress. The PM had released the video days after accepting a fitness challenge from Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had alleged that Rs 35 lakh was spent on making of the video, but the claim was rejected by the government.

“No expenditure has been incurred on filming of the video posted by Shri Narendra Modi. The video was filmed at the prime minister’s residence,” the PMO said replying to an RTI query.

It said the videography was done by the cameraman of the PMO and that nothing has been procured for the video.

“Here are moments from my morning exercises. Apart from Yoga, I walk on a track inspired by the ‘panchtatvas’ or five elements of nature – Prithvi, Jal, Agni, Vayu, Aakash. This is extremely refreshing and rejuvenating. I also practice breathing exercises. #HumFitTohIndiaFit”,” the prime minister had tweeted along with the video.

In the video, the PM was seen doing the exercises and yoga, wearing a black jogging dress. He was also seen balancing himself while walking on a narrow, circular track.

Ahead of the Yoga Day celebrations, a campaign titled “#HumFitTohIndiaFit” (If we are fit, India is fit) was launched and Sports Minister Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore had said that Modi was the inspiration for it.

Source: PTI

Congress leader alleges former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away on 14 Aug, was kept on life-support to ensure Modi’s I-Day address not cancelled?

In a shocking revelation, which cannot be confirmed independently, a senior Goa Congress leader has alleged that former PM and senior BJP leader Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee had breathed his last on 14th August late evening or during the intervening night of 14-15 August itself, but his demise was kept a top secret and he was put on life-support on the instructions of the PMO to ensure that 15th August – Independence Day was not declared a day of mourning, resulting in the cancellation of all events and I-Day programs across the country, including the PM’s Red Fort speech.

This was also done keeping in mind national security and law and order issues, the Congress leader told IndiaScoops.com.

The Goa Congress leader later clarified to IndiaScoops.com that he was not able to verify this information, and it was based on messages floating on social media.

He however did state that some senior Goa BJP Ministers were aware of the demise of the former PM on 15th morning itself, and a pall of gloom had descended on their faces during the I-Day functions, across the State.

IndiaScoops.com has not been able to independently confirm or verify any of these allegations and does not subscribe or endorse them. This post is published, merely based on messages which have appeared on social media over the last 3 days and some conflicting press reports, which were edited and republished later on.

We tried to ask several prominent citizens and political leaders across the country to clarify the gossip on social media, but they all stated that besides the Prime Minister, the PMO and a handful of top AIIMS doctors, nobody would be in the know, even if it did happen and the rumours were true.

“If a decision was taken by the Prime Minister himself, in the interest of national security and law and order in the country, besides the PM and a couple of doctors including the AIIMS director, nobody could tell if it’s true or false,” said a former Union Minister and Supreme Court advocate, speaking to IndiaScoops.com.

However, it must be pointed out that similar rumors have been doing the rounds on social media platforms, since the evening of 15th August, with BJP workers expecting the worst.

IndiaScoops.com contacted several BJP leaders and politicians from different parts of the country, who re-directed us to the PMO saying they were not authorised to comment or give inputs on matters relating to the Prime Minister or the PMO.

PMO officials were not available for comment on 15th August.

Even an article in The Statesman – which was edited and corrected later on, mentioned and reported the premature news.

While the official announcement was made by AIIMS only after 5.15 pm on 16th August, The Statesman reported that ‘rumours started floating around 2.30 pm that the BJP leader was no more, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the hospital, but the AIIMS authorities are yet to release any statement.’

Social media gossip allegedly claims that Vajpayee passed away late evening or during the night of 14-15th August, but to ensure that there was no disruption in the I-day events, the hospital authorities did not release the news on the instructions of the PMO.

The former PM was kept on life-support, also with the hopes of reviving him, but the doctors were not successful and after PM Modi visited the hospital on 16th August around noon, the decision was taken to pull off the life-support and withdraw the machines, announcing the demise.

According to media reports, PM Modi visited AIIMS on two occassions on 16th August, further fueling rumors of the former PM’s demise.

An AIIMS statement late on 14th August evening said:  “Unfortunately, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s condition has worsened over the last 24 hours. His condition is critical and he is on life support system,” AIIMS said in the last statement issued late on Wednesday.

Social media users took this as a hint, gossiping that Shri Vajpayee had passed away and several posts started doing the rounds on Facebook, alleging that the former PM was no more.

Vajpayee had only one functional kidney. In 2009, he had suffered a stroke, which weakened his cognitive abilities. Subsequently, he developed dementia, says The Statesman report.

Justifying the delayed decision a member on Quora – a social media platform writes:

All decorations at the BJP office that were made on the eve of Independence Day were taken down this morning (16th August morning). Death of Bala Saheb (Bal Thackeray) was also declared many hours later because everyone was afraid of crowds and public outrage that could’ve taken place.

Firstly, national security is taken into attention (sic) during these situations. Secondly, traffic situations are considered and only then any declaration takes place, the user writes.

Several such posts have appeared on social media, giving credence or trying to justify the conspiracy theory and rumours that our beloved former PM Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee may have passed away much earlier than it was actually declared by the Government of India. 

What do you think? Tell us in the comments below…

Chidambaram blasts BJP, RSS after ATS arrests 3 with a huge cache of arms and explosives and links to extremist Hindu outfits

A day after the Maharashtra ATS arrested three men affiliated to radical Hindu outfits for plotting terror attacks, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday, August 11 asked if the RSS and BJP would condemn those outfits.”Maharashtra ATS announced the arrest of three men affiliated to radical Hindu outfits.

Who rules Maharashtra? The BJP. Hindu, Muslim or any other religion, radicalism is radicalism. Terror is terror. There is no purpose in burying one’s head in the sand,” said Chidambaram on Twitter.”Will the RSS and BJP condemn those who are plotting and planning terror attacks?” he asked.

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Friday claimed to have foiled a terrorist attempt to strike in different parts of the state following the arrest of three persons and seizure of at least 20 crude bombs and explosives and material used in bomb-making.

Official sources said the first to be arrested early Friday was Hindu Janjagran Samiti (HJS) activist Vaibhav Raut from his home in Nala Sopara, Palghar district, just north of Mumbai.Later, his accomplice Sharad Kalaskar was arrested from there by the ATS teams, which were accompanied by a dog squad and forensics experts.

A third right-wing activist Sudhnava Gondhalekar—allegedly linked to Shri Shiv Pratisthan—was arrested from Pune.The sources said that the accused planned to carry out terror hits in Mumbai, Pune, Solapur and Satara districts in the coming few days.

Source: Nagpur Today

“You Promised Support To Modi”: Congress Leader’s Crushing Retort To AAP, Kejriwal

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has so far been silent on the combative words from Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party.

But today his party colleague Sharmistha Mukherjee picked up cudgels on his behalf and took on AAP, saying its “boycott” of the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman elections has only helped the BJP, reports NDTV.

Mr Kejriwal has been at loggerheads with the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi since his party swept to power in 2015.

But the abstention of his three lawmakers from today’s voting not only pulled down the opposition score but helped the government by lowering the majority mark, says NDTV.

“AAP says ‘politics does not run on ego’. Indeed! That’s why @ArvindKejriwal is sulking & decided to abstain from voting in RS, helping BJP,” tweeted Sharmistha Mukherjee, daughter of former president Pranab Mukherjee.

AAP had made its support to opposition candidate BK Hariprasad conditional – they wanted Mr Gandhi to dial Mr Kejriwal and seek his help.

When that call did not come, the deeply upset party declared that it will stay out of the election.

Accusing the Congress of discourtesy, party leader Sanjay Singh said, “If Rahul Gandhi can hug Narendra Modi, why cannot he ask Arvind Kejriwal for support to his party’s candidate”.

Congress sources said three senior leaders — Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Ahmed Patel — had called AAP, but Mr Kejriwal wanted a call from Rahul Gandhi, which was not made, reports NDTV.

Mr Gandhi was in Chennai yesterday, attending the funeral of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi.

Today, Ms Mukherjee, a spokesperson of the party’s Delhi unit, tweeted:

Why should @RahulGandhi seek support from a person who openly pledged to support & campaign for Modi in 2019 provided a demand of his is met. Politics is a battle of ideologies, not a playground for opportunists indulging in quid pro quo.

The reference was to the Mr Kejriwal’s unthinkable declaration in Delhi assembly in June that he was ready to campaign for the BJP in 2019 if Delhi was given full statehood.

The strained relation between the Congress and AAP has its roots in the 2011 anti-corruption movement, when AAP was not formed and Mr Kejriwal and his close colleagues were aides of Anna Hazare, who led the movement.

It was one of the factors that had hugely discredited the UPA government and helped the BJP win in 2014 general elections.

In 2013, AAP formed the government in Delhi with Congress support, but after 49 days, Mr Kejriwal stepped down, accusing the Congress of allying with the BJP and blocking the Jan Lokpal bill.

During Mr Kejriwal’s face off with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, he received messages of support and encouragement from most opposition parties. But there was none from the Congress.

Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken dismissed Mr Kejriwal’s sit-in protest at the LG’s house as “drama”.

Source: NDTV

Atrocities against women happening today in PM Modi’s rule, didn’t happen in 3,000 years: Rahul Gandhi

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of remaining silent on incidents of alleged rape, including in shelter homes in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, and asserted that what is happening against women during his tenure, had not happened in the previous 3,000 years in India, reports PTI.

Mr. Gandhi also said that his aim was to have 50% women in the Congress while asserting that the BJP cannot put forward such a vision as its “parent organisation”, the RSS, was a “male chauvinist organisation”.

Taking a swipe at the government’s campaign of “beti bachao, beti padhao”, he said that it was actually for “saving the daughters from BJP MLAs”, an apparent reference to some BJP leaders accused in rape cases.

He alleged that Mr. Modi had remained silent over the atrocities against women in the backdrop of rapes of girls in shelter homes in Muzaffarpur in Bihar and in Uttar Pradesh.

“The Prime Minister speaks on everything — bullet train, aeroplanes, toilets, but not women. Whenever there are atrocities on women, he does not speak up,” Mr. Gandhi said.

“[He] had talked about changing India, had talked about 70 years…what they have done against women in the last four years, had not happened in the previous 3,000 years in this country, leave alone 70 years,” Mr. Gandhi said.

The Congress leader, while addressing a “Mahila Adhikaar Sammelan” at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi, promised to extend his party’s full support to the passage of the women reservation bill and said if the Modi government does not bring it, the Congress will do so soon after coming to power.

He also talked of empowering women within the Congress and bringing them forward in the organisation, for them to lead a State or the country one day.

He promised to include more women in central units of the AICC, saying “the country needs them”.

“In U.P. women are raped, the Prime Minister does not say a word on it. In Jharkhand and in various States women are raped, in Bihar small girls are raped, but our Prime Minister cannot speak a word on it,” he said.

In a reference to the Unnao rape case, Mr. Gandhi said that in U.P. “their MLA is accused of rape”, but the Prime Minister does not say a word.

Women across the country go out scared, he claimed.

The Congress chief also said that whenever the prime minister goes abroad, he embraces leaders, but has no answer to the question — why women are not safe in India.

He promised to bring women to the forefront of the party in framing policy, manifesto and strengthening the organisation. He said his job as the Congress president is to ensure women have equal space in the organisation.

“We are going to create space for you in the Congress party. We need to create special space for women in our party. We need to create a space at every level.

“The RSS and the BJP will never be able to show the country a similar vision. Their parent organisation, the RSS, in its history has never allowed a woman into its organisation,” Mr. Gandhi said.

“There are other organisations in the BJP that have females in it, but the RSS is a completely male chauvinist organisation that does not believe in giving space to women,” Mr. Gandhi alleged, adding that they simply “can’t do what we can do“.

The day one woman enters the RSS, it will not remain the RSS, Mr. Gandhi said.

The ideology of the BJP and the RSS is that India will be run by men, women cannot run this country, he said.

“Women’s place is at the back and men’s place is in front. This is the biggest difference between us and them,” the Congress leader said.

Launching a fierce attack on the Prime Minister, Mr. Gandhi said various institutions were under attack from the BJP and the RSS, who have “devastated” the country, and that the Congress party will unitedly defeat them in the coming days.

“Institutions are under attack in the country, be it Parliament, vidhan sabhas and the judiciary. Minorities, Dalits, women, tribals, small businessmen are under attack. We will fight the BJP and defeat them in the coming days.

“The Congress party and the opposition are working together to fight the ideology of the BJP. We are fighting an ideological battle,” he said.

Talking about the women reservation bill, which is pending for the last few years, the Congress chief said the BJP lacks commitment on the issue.

Promising to bring women forward within the Congress and give them their rightful place, Mr. Gandhi while pointing to the slogan “your fight is our fight” put up at the conference, said you can add “your right is Congress president’s fight”.

He said if he faced with a choice between a man and a woman for selecting election candidate, he will choose whoever is more capable.

“If both are equally capable, I will choose the woman as a candidate,” Mr. Gandhi said.

Mr. Gandhi, along with Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev, unveiled the flag and the symbol of Mahila Congress.

Mr. Gandhi also said that the media should no longer worry, while alleging that the BJP and the RSS are frightening them.

Source: PTI