The BJP today heaped scorn on Congress president Rahul Gandhi after he challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a debate, saying he is not worthy to have a debate with Modi.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also claimed that Gandhi is jittery after the Income Tax department opened assessment of a firm in which he and his mother Sonia Gandhi have majority share, and alleged that the company — Young India — acquired over Rs 5,000 crore worth of assets with an investment of merely Rs 50 lakh.
The BJP leader accused Gandhi of repeatedly lying in his allegations of corruptions against the Modi government.
“If he thinks that his allegations of corruption against the Modi government or Modi will mitigate the action against him, then let me tell him that it is not going to happen,” Prasad said.
Ratcheting up his criticism of Modi over alleged corruption in the Rafale deal, Gandhi today dared him to a debate and claimed he will not be able to answer his questions on the issue “even for a second”.
Mocking the Congress president, Prasad said he had once boasted that there will be earthquake if he is allowed to speak in Parliament.
They were very eager to hear him and there was no earthquake when he spoke in Parliament during the monsoon session, he said.
He reiterated that the government had honestly executed the Rafale deal with complete transparency.
“Rahul Gandhi is not worthy to have a debate with the prime minister,” he said.
Gandhi’s main trouble is that the Income Tax department has opened the assessment of Young India, owned by him and his mother, and it believes that his tax liability would be on Rs 154 crore and not merely Rs 68 lakh as claimed by him, he said.
“This is his real problem. By paying Rs 50 lakh, how you can acquire Rs 90 crore loan of a company along with all its assets which are worth over Rs 5000 crore… To counter this, he is levelling false allegations,” Prasad said.
Hitting back at critics drawing a parallel between the Rafale deal and the alleged Bofors scam, he said everyone knows how a family was saved in the latter and a family friend was allowed to escape, in an apparent reference to the Gandhi family.
He asserted that the base price of the Rafale fighter aircraft negotiated by the NDA government was nine per cent less than the one decided on by the UPA dispensation.
The secrecy clause was brought in by the UPA and the NDA government agreed with it, he said.
The BJP leader also cited several replies made by then defence ministers Pranab Mukherjee and A K Antony — both of whom held the charge during the Manmohan Singh government — in Parliament in which they had declined to share details of defence matters, including costs of weapon purchase, on the ground of national security.
“There were your defence ministers. You (Gandhi) have become so irresponsible that you are compromising national security. This is irresponsible and against national interest,” Prasad said.
To a question about why the government does not take the Congress into confidence over the details of the Rafale deal, Prasad said they did not trust the party under Gandhi’s leadership.
Referring to Gandhi’s claim that the French president had told him that there was no secrecy clause about price details of the Rafale fighter aircraft, he said the Congress spoke a blatant lie in Parliament and outside it.
The French embassy had rebutted his claim, he said.
“Gandhi is lying again. He is so frustrated,” Prasad said.