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Rafale controversy: Nirmala Sitharaman says she can arrange a "tutor" for Rahul Gandhi if Congress is unable to teach him facts

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday, in an interview with CNN-News18, hit back at Congress president Rahul Gandhi over Congress' attacks on the Modi government over the Rafale deal. Sitharaman said that she has laid out all the facts of the deal in the debate in Parliament and that the Congress chief needs to "get his facts right”. Sitharaman, in the interview, said that she can offer to arrange a “tutor” for Rahul if the Congress party is unable to tutor him.

 Rafale controversy: Nirmala Sitharaman says she can arrange a tutor for Rahul Gandhi if Congress is unable to teach him facts

File image of defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman. PTI

Sitharaman also questioned why the Congress-led UPA government was unable to finalise the deal for the fighter jets during its tenure and demanded that Rahul be questioned on the same. “Each year, they (UPA) gave orders worth Rs 10,000 crore to HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited). We give orders worth Rs 20,000 crore. Why is Rahul Gandhi not being asked why they did not finalise the deal?” the defence minister said.

She also asked if the Congress president was "sitting over" Rafale files saying, “He (Rahul Gandhi) seems to have all the ministry’s files. Is he sitting over the files or did some source leak it to him?” Sitharaman was commenting on an audio recording cited by Congress as proof that “damaging” Rafale files were in the possession of her former defence minister Manohar Parrikar.

On being asked if Prime Minister Narendra Modi was ready to debate with Rahul on the issue as challenged by the latter, Sitharaman said that she, being the concerned minister, has answered all questions on the matter in the Lok Sabha. She said that the Opposition is not ready to listen to her and instead keep demanding that the prime minister is called for discussion. “It is for the concerned minister to give the reply. You started the debate and when the concerned minister got up to reply, you said ‘call the prime minister’,” she said.

Sitharaman reiterated that she has presented all the facts in front of the House but, Rahul is "scared of facts". "I'm giving all the facts. Arun Jaitley is giving the facts. Unfortunately, Rahul Gandhi, the leader and president of Congress, doesn't want the facts. He is scared of facts," she said. She also attacked the Congress chief for calling Modi "chor". "Here is a man out on bail, calling others chor? Prove yourself first. Clear the record about yourself," Sitharaman remarked.

Earlier, Rahul had demanded Sitharaman's resignation accusing her of  "lying" in the Parliament over Rafale issue. "When you tell one lie, you need to keep spinning out more lies, to cover up the first one. In her eagerness to defend the prime minister's Rafale lie, the RM (Raksha Mantri) lied to Parliament. Tomorrow (on Monday), RM must place before Parliament documents showing 1 lakh crore of Govt orders to HAL. Or resign," he had tweeted.

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Updated Date: Jan 07, 2019 21:41:54 IST