Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday filed his response to the Supreme Court's notice on his comments on the sub-judice case of the Rafale fighter jet deal, saying he had made the 'chowkidar chor hai' remarks "in the heat of the moment". BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi had sought contempt action against Rahul for misattributing his remarks to the top court.
In his reply, Rahul said he got carried away while campaigning and "unfortunately", the media "mingled" his words. He expressed regret for dragging the top court's name into the comments he made a week ago and also admitted that the Supreme Court had never used the phrase "chowkidar chor hai", which he reiterates at every campaign rally accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of stealing from the poor and handing doles to the rich.
Rahul also assured the bench that he will not attribute his political views to the court unless it made any such statement itself.
Soon after Rahul filed his affidavit in court, the BJP claimed the Congress chief's apology was proof of vindication in the case, and that Rahul stands "exposed" on his "blatant lies and false claims" made with regard to the Rafale case.
Lekhi told CNN-News18 that Rahul's "admission of guilt" before the court lays bare the web of lies the Congress has spun on the fighter jet deal even though the Supreme Court has not passed any judgment yet in the case. The BJP leader said the court should now react with the strictest rebuttal.
"It’s an admission of guilt & thus Contempt . Considering the need to protect the integrity of the court in these testing times,such an admission is a vindication of the petition. I hope & pray that it is responded with strictest rebuke by the court," she tweeted.
Whereas, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that Rahul Gandhi's credibility has taken a beating. "People in public life to generously go on saying untruth and to repeat it is a matter of grief. I feel sorry that President of a national party like Congress depends only on falsehood," Sitharaman said in a press conference.
BJP also demanded an apology from Rahul and said he is "liar of the first order" in public opinion. BJP spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao said, "Today, by filing an affidavit in the honourable SC, Rahul Gandhi accepted that he had lied on his allegations against PM Modi on the Rafale deal." "This was an attempt by Rahul Gandhi to manufacture a lie and create a controversy in the Rafale deal... He should apologise to the people of this country," he added. "In public opinion, Rahul Gandhi is a liar of the first order," Rao said.
Stating that Gandhi stands guilty in the "court of public opinion", Rao added that all Congress cadres across the country hang their heads in shame that their leader has been blatantly lying on the Rafale jet deal.
On 10 April, the Congress president had claimed claimed that the apex court has "made it clear" that Modi had "committed a theft". He had made the statement while interacting with reporters in Amethi after filing his nomination papers. Rahul had also recalled a recent interview by the prime minister, in which Modi had said the Supreme Court had given a clean chit to his government on the Rafale deal.
The Congress chief had made the statements after the Supreme Court, earlier on 10 April, had allowed the plea of petitioners relying on leaked documents to seek a review of its Rafale judgement. It had dismissed the government's preliminary objections claiming "privilege" over them.
Last week, on Lekhi's petition, the Supreme Court had made it clear that Rahul had "incorrectly attributed" his remarks to the court and had given him till Monday, 22 April, to file a response.
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Updated Date: Apr 22, 2019 14:51:50 IST