Rahul Gandhi challenges Narendra Modi to debate Rafale deal: In Karnataka's Bidar, Congress chief calls Nirmala Sitharaman a liar

Attacking the Narendra Modi government over the Rafale deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman "lied to India" and prime minister's job creation promise is a farce while addressing a rally in Karnataka's Bidar. Rafale deal aside, the Congress president also slammed the Centre over farmers' issues, unemployment of youths, farmer suicides and Bihar shelter home rape cases as he kicked off the campaign for 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the state.

Launch a scathing attack on the Centre Gandhi said,"Nirmala Sitharaman said India and France have a secret pact and so they can't reveal the price of Rafale aircraft. I asked France president if this is true and he denied." The Congress president added that Modi cannot look into his eyes and talk, CNN-News 18 reported.

On Monday, Rahul launched the 'Jana Dwani Yatra' from Bidar with around two lakh Congress workers from different Assembly segments of Bidar attending the rally, Deccan Chronicle reported. Congress leaders attending the campaign along with Rahul include the leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, KPCC president Dinesh Gundurao, AICC general secretary KC Venugopal, former chief minister Siddaramaiah and deputy chief minister G Parameshwar. Congress' decision to hold one of the first general election rallies in Karnataka is significant in light of the recent state Assembly elections which resulted in a Congress-JD(S) coalition government which has reported simmering issues between both the ruling parties. Senior leaders of both parties expressing doubts about the longevity of the government and a recent emotional outburst of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy that he was "not happy" and was swallowing the pain like "Vishakantha" (Lord Shiva) had pointed towards strains in the coalition.

On the Rafale deal, Rahul further said that the UPA government had given the Rafale deal to HAL. "We told France that we will use the technology and make the jets in India. It would have created lakhs of jobs for aeronautical engineers. Modi came to power and changed the entire deal," Rahul said.

Reminding Modi that he is "the prime minister of India, not the prime minister of 10-15 Indian industrialists", Rahul said that while on one hand Modi waived off debts worth Rs 2.5 lakh crore for 10-15 large businesses, on the other, he made the people of India stand in queue in the name of demonetisation.

Elaborating on the false job promises of the prime minister, Rahul said,"Prime Minister Modi promised two crore jobs every year and now asks the youth to make pakodas. He also promised to provide gas connections, and now talks about using gas from the gutter."

 Rahul Gandhi challenges Narendra Modi to debate Rafale deal: In Karnatakas Bidar, Congress chief calls Nirmala Sitharaman a liar

Congress president Rahul Gandhi kickstarts campaign for 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Karnataka's Bidar on Monday. Twitter@INCIndia

On the issue of farm loan waiver, Rahul said Congress had promised that they will waive off farm loans if they come to power and they have kept their promise. "I challenge Prime Minister Modi from this stage. Karnataka government waived off loans of farmers. I challenge you (Centre) to provide 50 percent of the farm loan waived in Karnataka. If you have 56-inch chest, I dare you to do this. But you won't do this," the Congress president said.

He further said that the prime minister talks of increasing the MSP (minimum support price) of farmers and says that they have increased to 10,000 crore MSP. The Karnataka government has increased MSP thrice as compared to this, Gandhi said. He also criticised the prime minister for his apathy towards the farmer suicide issue.

Hitting out at the prime minister for his ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ programme, Gandhi said, "Modi brought in the slogan of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’. What he didn’t tell is from whom to save our daughter." Raising the issue of Muzaffarpur shelter home rape cases, Gandhi said that Modi did not say one word on the rapes in Uttar Pradesh or the ones in the Bihar shelter home. He is busy protecting his leaders accused of rapes.

This is not the first time Gandhi is attacking Modi on these issues. Focusing on primarily the Rafale deal, farmers' issues, unemployment of youths, farmer suicides issues, Congress has made its pitch for the 2019 general election campaign quite clear. Earlier, on Saturday, Gandhi addressed a gathering of party workers in Jaipur, during which he hit out at the Narendra Modi government over the Rafale deal, farmer suicides, unemployment and the Goods and Services Tax. Gandhi said that Modi promised two crore jobs, Rs 15 lakh in every bank account and safety of women but, failed on every front.

At the Jaipur rally, the Congress party president had said that the Rafale deal made by the Modi government to be a scam.  Referring to China, he said that the country gives jobs to 50,000 youths in 24 hours, whereas only 450 youths in India get employment in the same span.

Updated Date: Aug 13, 2018 15:21:03 IST