Congress plans month-long agitation, marches against Rafale deal

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NEW DELHI, August 27: Undeterred by legal notices served on its leaders, the Congress has decided to intensify its campaign against the Rafale fighter aircraft deal which, the party claimed, was altered to benefit Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s industrialist “friend” and “promote crony capitalism”.
The Congress has lined up a series of events to take the issue to the people and “expose” the Narendra Modi government ahead of next year’s parliamentary election.
The main opposition party will stage agitations and take out marches at district and state levels over the alleged scam worth thousands of crores of rupees.
Besides, senior party leaders will hold press conferences across the country till September 6 to “reveal the truths” about the revised deal which, it claimed, was inked at a much higher price than the one the previous UPA dispensation had negotiated.
The district-level agitations will be held from September 7 to 15, while the state-level agitations will be organised from September 16 to 30.
The Congress has also set up a separate control room at the party headquarters to monitor district-level agitations.
“Please ensure that a massive state-level agitation and a march to the Governor’s House for submission of memorandum to the Governor,” party general secretary Ashok Gehlot has said in a letter to the party’s state unit chiefs.
According to party sources, the Congress will make the alleged Rafale scam a “poll issue” and target the Modi government over its claim of corruption-free governance.
The Congress has accused the Modi government of not disclosing the price of the aircraft and alleged that the price was three times higher than that negotiated during the UPA government with France’s Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of the aircraft.
The Congress has also accused PM Modi of “personally benefitting” from the deal, and alleged that it was the reason behind his continued silence on the issue.
“The Rafale scam is a sordid saga of squandering our national interests and promoting crony capitalism by the Modi government,” the party said.
It has also accused PM Modi of helping his “friend” Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group in getting offset contracts for the aircraft, bypassing the public-sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
The Reliance Group has sent defamation notices to many Congress leaders warning them against levelling charges that are “misleading”.
The company has asked Congress leaders to “cease and desist” from levelling such charges.
Ambani recently wrote to Congress president Rahul Gandhi on the deal, saying his party has been “misinformed, misdirected and misled” by “malicious vested interests and corporate rivals” on the issue.
Leading the Congress attack on the government over the deal, Mr Gandhi, during his recent interactions in Germany and the UK, alleged that the deal smelt of corruption, which has caused loss to the state exchequer to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees.(PTI)