Hours after Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar accused Rahul Gandhi of politicising a “personal visit”, the Congress president rejected allegations that he had shared details of a conversation from their meeting in Goa on Tuesday.
Earlier on Wednesday, Parrikar wrote to Gandhi, saying that the latter had used their meeting for “petty political gains”. Parrikar was referring to Gandhi’s claims that the Goa chief minister had told him he had nothing to do with the renegotiated Rafale jet deal between India and France.
Parrikar insisted that they did not discuss the Rafale deal when Gandhi called on him to inquire about his health. “In the five minutes you spent with me, neither did you mention anything about Rafale, nor did we discuss anything about/related to it,” Parrikar wrote.
However, Gandhi claimed that in his two speeches since their meeting, he had referred to information that is already available in the public domain. “It is a fact that in April 2015, while you were inaugurating a fish market in Goa, PM Modi announced the Rafale deal in France with the then French President, Hollande,” Gandhi wrote in a letter to Parrikar. “It is also a fact that you clearly stated to the press that you had no idea about the new deal engineered by the PM. This has been widely reported in all sections of the media.”
The Congress chief claimed he “empathised with his [Parrikar’s] situation” and that the minister is under “immense pressure” after their meeting on Tuesday. “Pressure that has forced you to take the highly unusual step of demonstrating your loyalty to the PM and his cronies by attacking me in this uncharacteristic manner,” he said.
Parrikar is suffering from pancreatic cancer. He was the defence minister when the new Rafale deal was signed in 2016. The Narendra Modi-led government had in 2015 replaced the former Congress-led government’s deal for 126 jets with a new agreement for 36 aircraft.