Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the Congress party was agitated and was trying to create “distrust” against the judiciary, PTI reported. “I want to know from the Congress as to why it is agitated and telling lies repeatedly?” he said at an event in Raebareli town of Uttar Pradesh. “Is it because there is no Quattrocchi mama or Christian Michel in defence deals done by the BJP government?”
Ottavio Quattrocchi was an Italian businessman who was allegedly involved in the Bofors scam, and Michel was an alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal. Michel was extradited to India on December 3 and is now under the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation.
This was the first time Modi commented on defence deals after the Supreme Court ruled that there was no need for an inquiry into the Rafale deal. “There are two facets before the country...one is of the government which is making every possible effort to augment the strength of defence forces, and the second is of those forces which want to weaken the country at every cost,” he said.
Raebareli is represented in the Lok Sabha by former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. Modi’s visit comes ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, and he is expected to flag off several developmental projects.
The prime minister said “the Congress is aligning with those forces which do not want our defence forces to become stronger”. Modi cited a couplet from the Ramcharit Manas and said that some people only accept lies. “For these very people the defence ministry, the defence minister, officers of the Indian Air Force, government of France, are all lies...now the Supreme Court also appears to be a lie to them,” Modi said.
Modi said that India needed modern aircraft after the Kargil conflict of 1999. “The Congress ruled the country for ten years, but it did not allow the Air Force to get strengthened. Why? And under whose pressure?” He also accused the Congress of failing to provide bullet-proof jackets to Army personnel and that his government had purchased 50,000 such jackets in 2016.
Modi was in Raebareli to flag off the 900th coach and a Humsafar Express rake of the Modern Coach Factory. Addressing the crowd at the inaugural ceremony, Modi claimed that the Modern Coach Factory was never allowed to make coaches at full capacity when the Congress-led government was in power, ANI reported. “If capacity of Modern Coach Factory is increased it will give employment to youth,” he asserted. “Think of the time when 10 to 12 coaches will be made here in a day. The expansion of this factory will bring employment for engineers and technicians.”
Modi said that while the previous governments had decided to hire 5,000 employees to work at the factory, only half of these recruitments were approved.
Chief Minister Adityanath, who attended the ceremony, claimed that the pace of development in Raebareli has increased in the last four years, the Hindustan Times reported. “Raebareli despite being the seat of VVIPs was away from development,” Adityanath claimed. “But after Modi came to power, the region developed under the banner of Make in India.” The chief minister said that the Modern Coach Factory provides jobs to the youth.
Modi also visited Prayagraj, where he inaugurated a Command and Control Centre for the upcoming Kumbh Mela and performed a puja at the Sangam Ghat, according to ANI. Modi said the “game of building pressure on the judiciary” has started in a reference to the Congress. “Their actions, their conspiracies are proving it again [and] again that they [Congress] consider themselves above country, democracy, judiciary [and] public,” he said. “Stay alert [and] safe from such people [and] parties.”
He also accused the Congress of weakening every democratic institution that refused to toe its line, PTI reported.
Modi is expected to inaugurate the new terminal at Bamrauli airport in Prayagraj before heading back to Delhi on Sunday. “The terminal building at Prayagraj has become ready very fast,” Modi said. “This is in line with our emphasis on timely completion of essential infrastructure projects.”