Mumbai, Sep 27: The NCP said Thursday that its chief Sharad Pawar has not given any clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Rafale issue, after the opposition leader’s remarks that “people have no doubts” over the prime minister’s intentions in the deal.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesperson Nawab Malik also reiterated the party’s demands that the central government disclose the price of the fighter jets and a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe the matter.
In an interview to a Marathi news channel, Pawar had said that he didn’t think that people have doubts about Modi’s intentions in the Rafale deal.
Pawar, a former Defence Minister, had also said that the Opposition’s demand to share technical details relating to the fighter jets “made no sense”. He, however, said there was no harm for the government to disclose prices of the aircraft.
Malik said Thursday that the media reports over Pawar’s statement are “confusing and misleading”.
“He (Pawar) has not made any statement defending Modi nor has he given any clean chit (in the Rafale deal matter),” the NCP leader said.
Malik said what Pawar meant was that people initially didn’t have doubts about the prime minister.
“What Pawar saheb said was that the way the matter is being hushed up (by the government) and attention of people from the issue is being diverted, the doubt is deepening,” Malik said.
In his interview, Pawar had also said that the way Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the government’s side led to confusion in the minds of people.
Quoting Pawar, Malik said the government should share information about escalation of the fighter jets price.
“The way the BJP had insisted on forming a JPC in the Bofors deal in the 1980s, it should now allow formation of such a committee in connection with the Rafale issue too,” Malik demanded.
His remarks came even as BJP chief Amit Shah lauded Sharad Pawar’s comments and asked Congress president Rahul Gandhi to believe his own ally who has put “national interests above party politics”.
“I thank Sharad Pawar, a former Defence Minister and veteran MP, for placing national interests above party politics and speaking the truth. Dear Rahul Gandhi, you would be wiser by believing your own ally and a leader of Pawar Saheb’s stature,” Shah tweeted.
He tagged the Congress president in his tweet which also attached a news story on Pawar’s comments .
Meanwhile, Malik said NCP workers will observe a “maun vrat” (vow of silence) for three hours on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2.
The Congress has launched an offensive against the BJP government over the Rafale deal with France, alleging corruption and violation of rules.
The opposition party has accused the government of causing loss to the public exchequer and endangering national security by bypassing state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in favour of some businessman “friends” for awarding the offset contract.
The government as denied the charges.