Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed that Congress president Rahul Gandhi was propagating the Rafale controversy to wash away the stain of the Bofors scam from his father's legacy.
Speaking to Network18's Group editor-in-chief Rahul Joshi, Modi, in an exclusive interview, referred to Rahul only as an "individual" and said that one individual kept repeating the same "Rafale lies", and these lies were rejected everywhere, "be it in the Supreme Court or by the Comptroller and Auditor General".
"Some neutral journalists also raised the issue of the money trail in the Bofors case. But here, that individual spoke without any basis. How long could that have lasted? His advisors also told him that Rafale does not resonate as a political issue. His own people told him to let the issue be. But he wanted to wash away the Bofors stain from his father's legacy by raising the Rafale deal," Modi claimed.
The Congress has been accusing the Modi government of inking the deal with France for 36 Rafale fighter jets at prices higher than what the Congress had negotiated. The party has also accused the Centre of favouring a private defence company over the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in the Rafale deal.
The prime minister said that the Congress was trying to make the same allegations against all governments as the party was "destroyed by defence scams".
"During the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, they tried to trap George Fernandes in the coffin scam. It turned out to be a lie. Now, they are trying to similarly trap me. We are asking for proof to be shown in public, but they are not giving any. They are only lying. That's why this issue will not fly," he added. "However hard they try, the people of India will never accept lies. The public is very smart; they understand these people (Congress)."
When asked how he had turned the Congress' "chowkidar chor hai" to come up with the "Main Bhi Chowkidar" campaign slogan, he said: "In 2013-2014, when I was campaigning for the Lok Sabha election, I used to tell people 'you make me the chowkidar, and I will not let anyone steal India's wealth'. That used to be part of my speech. Even today, I say I am the chowkidar, and I will not let anyone steal. If someone does, I am strengthening the law and taking strong action. The government has succeeded in creating an environment that encourages honesty."
In the interview, Modi addressed several other subjects, such as the Congress promising to review the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the impact of the "Mahagathbandhan" in Uttar Pradesh, India-China relations, Mayawati seeking Muslim votes, economic growth, demonetisation and why he thinks India would have achieved a lot more success a lot faster if Sardar Patel had been prime minister instead of Jawaharlal Nehru.
The interview will be aired at 7 pm Tuesday night on CNN-News18 and all other 19 news channels of the group. Firstpost will also stream the interview live.
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Updated Date: Apr 09, 2019 11:52:55 IST