Rafale row: Congress, BJP spar over AG’s U-turn on ‘stolen documents’ comment, accuse each other of lying for political gains

  • The Congress and the BJP on Friday sparred over Attorney General KK Venugopal 's claim that the Rafale documents were not stolen from the Defence Ministry

  • The Opposition party dubbed it a 'lie' and the ruling party slammed Rahul Gandhi for his attack on the government over the issue

  • Venugopal clarified that his submission before the SC was that petitioners in the application used 'photocopies of the original' papers, deemed secret by the government

New Delhi: The Congress and the BJP on Friday sparred over Attorney General KK Venugopal 's claim that the Rafale documents were not stolen from the Defence Ministry with the Opposition party dubbing it a "lie" and the ruling party slamming Congress president Rahul Gandhi for his attack on the government over the issue.

The heated exchange between the Congress and the BJP came after Venugopal said that the Rafale documents were not stolen from the Defence Ministry and that what he meant in his submission before the Supreme Court was that petitioners in the application used "photocopies of the original" papers, deemed secret by the government.

Reacting to the remarks, BJP chief Amit Shah launched a scathing attack on Rahul saying: "Lies and Rahul Gandhi are synonymous. In this chain, he had yesterday said that Rafale's documents have disappeared from the Defence Ministry, but today it has become clear that no documents had disappeared. Another lie of Rahul Gandhi is in front of the public."

 Rafale row: Congress, BJP spar over AG’s U-turn on ‘stolen documents’ comment, accuse each other of lying for political gains

File image of BJP chief Amit Shah. PTI

"Sometimes he lies about the foundation stone laying of the Ordnance Factory in Amethi, sometimes he lies about loan waiver, sometimes he lies about the Congress's role in the Sikh riots, sometimes he lies about meeting the Chinese ambassador during the time of Doka La, and sometimes he lies about the price of fruit and vegetables," Shah said in a series of tweets.

He alleged that Rahul "lies habitually" and currently has no credibility in Indian politics. On the Rafale issue itself, Rahul has spoken over a dozen lies, Shah claimed. "On Rafale's price, French prime minister, meeting Manohar Parrikar... he has lied on everything. Moreover, he also lied in the temple of democracy — the Parliament," the BJP chief alleged.

Reacting to Venugopal's remarks, Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the government whose Attorney General does not know the difference between theft of defence ministry files and photocopies, is claiming that the country is in safe hands. "Art of serving hundred lies to hide one truth! Yesterday in Supreme Court — Rafale files have been stolen. Today — Photocopies of Rafale files have been stolen," he tweeted.

"Modi ji, what’s the 'duplicity' for tomorrow? Now every impossible lie is possible," he said.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in a tweet, cited Venugopal's remarks that the Rafale documents were not stolen from the Defence Ministry and that what he meant in his submission before the Supreme Court was that petitioners in the application used "photocopies of the original" papers, deemed secret by the government.

Shah, in his tweets, also said: "Insult of Iron Man Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who symbolizes unity and integrity of the country, is nothing new for the Congress. Rahul Gandhi called India-made Sardar Patel's 'Statue of Unity' as 'Made in China'."

Shah alleged that to grab the votes of farmers, Rahul made a "false promise" of debt waiver. Rahul had promised that if within ten days the farmers of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are not given debt waiver, the chief minister would be changed, he claimed.

"So far, even loans of 10% farmers has not been waived and now he says say that debt relief is not the solution," Shah said. Venugopal's comments in the apex court on Wednesday that Rafale fighter jet deal documents were stolen caused a political row, with Rahul targeting the government over stealing of such sensitive papers and seeking a criminal investigation.

"I am told that the Opposition has alleged what was argued (in SC) was that files had been stolen from the Defence Ministry. This is wholly incorrect. The statement that files have been stolen is wholly incorrect," Venugopal told PTI, in an apparent damage-control exercise.

Venugopal said the application filed by Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Prashant Bhushant, seeking from the court a review of its verdict dismissing pleas for a probe into against the Rafale deal, had annexed three documents which were photocopies of the original. Official sources said the AG's use of word stolen was probably "stronger" and could have been avoided.

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Updated Date: Mar 09, 2019 10:36:23 IST