The Congress on Tuesday released an audio clip in which they claim Goa minister Vishwajeet Rane said that former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is aware of all the details of the India-France Rafale jet deal, ANI reported. Parrikar allegedly claimed to have “all the files related to the Rafale deal in his bedroom”. But both Rane and Parrikar have claimed the clip was doctored.
Speaking to reporters at the Parliament House, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala claimed Parrikar had made the alleged remarks at a meeting of the Goa Cabinet a few days ago. Parrikar was the defence minister when the deal was signed in 2016. He is now the chief minister of Goa.
In the audio clip, a man the Congress claimed was Rane is heard speaking to a person identified only as X. The man talks about the Cabinet meeting and goes on to claim that Parrikar had made an “interesting statement”. “That I have all the information of Rafale in my bedroom,” he said. “He said it’s in my bedroom... here only in the flat.”
He is heard claiming that Parrikar had said that he had in his possession “each and every document of Rafale”.
Surjewala asked if this was the reason why the Bharatiya Janata Party was not allowing an all-party parliamentary inquiry into the deal. “The fashion in which every procedure was bypassed... it is all recorded in the files. Those files are with Mr Parrikar,” Surjewala said. “Why are those files being hidden?”
“We want the truth,” Surjewala said. “Parrikar has said this to someone whose identity we have deliberately kept confidential.”
Parrikar said in a tweet that the clip was doctored. “The audio clip released by the Congress party is a desperate attempt to fabricate facts after their lies were exposed by the recent Supreme Court verdict on Rafale,” he claimed. “No such discussion ever came up during Cabinet or any other meeting.”
Rane too said that the clip was fabricated, ANI reported. “Congress has stooped to such a low level to doctor a tape to create miscommunication between Cabinet and chief minister. Mr Parrikar has never made any reference to Rafale or any documents. Have asked him for a criminal investigation into this.”
The revelation gave the Congress fresh ammunition in its criticism of the National Democratic Alliance government’s deal with France. The Congress has been demanding an inquiry by a Joint Parliamentary Committee into the deal, and has forced several adjournments during the Parliament’s ongoing Winter Session.
Last month, the Supreme Court had dismissed petitions seeking an inquiry into the government’s procurement of the fighter jets from French company Dassault Aviation. The court had said it was satisfied that the process for procurement had been complied with in the case of Rafale.
Earlier on Wednesday, former ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, along with lawyer Prashant Bhushan, requested the Supreme Court to review its December 14 decision.