Congress to move privilege motion over Rafale

Congress to move privilege motion over Rafale

Courtesy : NJ25/07/2018 09:10

The Congress said on Monday that it would move a privilege motion against Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for "misleading the nation" on the Rafale deal during Friday's no-confidence motion debate in the Lok Sabha.

Congress' deputy whip in the Lower House, KC Venugopal, told DNA the party would move the motion on Wednesday.

Reacting to the move, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that Congress president Rahul Gandhi's understanding of national security issues is poor, and that his party's stand is not in national interest. "Dragging the French President into internal politics is unfortunate," said Prasad.

 If the Lok Sabha Speaker admits the motion, it will go to the House's Committee of Privileges that may issue a notice to the member and hold a hearing. Action may include brief suspension from the House.

Congress leaders -- Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma and former Defence Minister AK Antony -- said the party is also looking at the possibility of filing a motion against PM Narendra Modi.

France contradicted Gandhi's claim in the Lok Sabha on Friday that President Emmanuel Macron had told him there is no secrecy pact with India over the Rafale deal. The spokesperson of France's Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs had said the two countries have signed an agreement to protect classified information.

Gandhi had however stood by his claim, claiming former PM Manmohan Singh and Congress leader Sharma, who were present during his (Gandhi's) meeting with Macron, say otherwise.

Antony, who was the Defence Minister in the UPA government when the secrecy pact was signed in 2008, said that it does not mention the commercial cost of the procurement of the 36 jets; it extends only to the tactical and technical details of the weaponry.

"The price disclosed by the defence minister gives an approximate figure of Rs 670 crore, which does not add up. PM Modi is now backtracking on the issue by claiming the secrecy clause. This only proves there is a scam," said Sharma.

Congress also said that while NDA has revealed the prices of the aircraft in earlier instances, Sitharaman cited the secrecy clause in Parliament on Friday. Sitharaman had on November 17, 2017, held a press conference directing the defence secretary to share the purchase price of the aircraft.



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