New Delhi :In the continuing back and forth over the Rafale jet deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday tweeted a sharp attack on the government, this time targeting defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who the Congress president demanded, “must resign”. The attack came after the former boss of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited TS Raju told Hindustan Times that the state-run plane maker could have built Rafale fighters in India had the government managed to close the original negotiations with Dassault and had actually signed a work-share contract with the French company.
“When HAL can build a 25-tonne Sukhoi-30, a fourth-generation fighter jet that forms the mainstay of the air force, from raw material stage, then what are we talking about? We could have definitely done it (licence produced the Rafale jets),” Raju, who retired on September 1, said.
Gandhi, 48, quoted the news report in his tweet attack to say that former HAL chief, TS Raju, had “nailed” Sitharaman’s “lie”. Her position, he said, had become “untenable”.
The government and the Congress have been trading charges over the controversial Rs 59,000-crore purchase almost every day. On Tuesday, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said HAL was “dropped” from the deal when the UPA was in power, because it couldn’t agree on terms of production with Dassault.
The minister also that HAL lost out on the chance to build the warplanes because of the UPA regime. Former defence minister AK Antony accused the minister of suppressing facts.
The earlier deal also fell through because Dassault could not guarantee that HAL would deliver the aircraft it was assembling on time. There was a huge disparity between the time Dassault thought it should take HAL to make the planes in India, and the time HAL said it would take.
Air Chief Marshal AY Tipnis, a former IAF chief, said building Rafales in India would have been a challenging task for the HAL though not impossible with transfer of manufacturing technology from France. “The fact is HAL has not performed to the level it could have. It promises more than it can deliver and quality of work has been substandard in many cases. It has also backtracked on its promises.”
The NDA government’s decision to enter into a government-to-government deal with France to buy 36 Rafale warplanes was announced in April 2015 with the deal signed a little over a year later. This replaced the UPA regime’s decision to buy 126 Rafale aircraft, 108 of which were to be made in India by HAL using parts imported from France.
Chaiwala vs doodhwala: Akhilesh’s battlecry in Azamgarh
AZAMGARH: Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav coined a new battle slogan to counter Prime Minister Narendra’s chaiwala (tea seller) catchphrase.
“If PM Modi is chaiwala, then we are doodhwala. Without good milk, good tea cannot be made,” said the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister while addressing a rally at Baitholi bypass after filing his nomination from Azamgarh parliamentary constituency for the Lok Sabha election 2019 .
Targetting PM Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party, the SP chief said, “BJP is calling the alliance of SP, Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal as Mahamilawat. And what will be the coalition of 38 parties be called?”
Ahead of the general election, SP, BSP and RLD announced their alliance on March 6. BSP is contesting on 38 seats, SP on 37 and RLD on three seats in Uttar Pradesh.
In a subtle reference to UP CM Yogi Adityanath while urging voters to remove the “dictatorial” BJP government in the state, Yadav said, “BSP, RLD and SP will hold a new history. First the chowkidar will go away from the country and then the thekedar too.”
“The BJP showed just dreams to everyone, but did not even complete the work. BJP’s talk starts with the toilet and ends there. In any case, there is no special difference between the Congress and BJP in the matter of toilets. If one digs a pit for the toilet then the other has two crates,” said the 45-year-old SP chief.
The SP chief said Azamgarh is the ‘karmabhoomi’ of ‘samajwadis’ and that the SP-BSP-RLD coaliton is an alliance of ‘mahaparivartan’ (grand change) and not ‘mahamilawat’ (adulteration) as alleged by the BJP.
Thousands of BSP supporters joined SP chief and raised slogans like
Kaam bolta hai (work speaks).
Akhilesh Yadav is seeking election Azamgarh, a seat won by his father Mulayam Singh Yadav in the 2014 general elections. The BJP has pitted Bhojpuri superstar Nirahua or Dinesh Lal Yadav against him.
Uttar Pradesh is witnessing polling during all seven phases of the election. The first and second phases were held on April 11 and April 18. The next phases are scheduled to be held on April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19. The votes will be counted on May 23.
Hardik Patel slapped at a Gujarat rally
New Delhi : Congress leader Hardik Patel was slapped at a public meeting in Gujarat on Friday morning. Patel was slapped in Gujarats Surendernagar district during a Jan Aakrosh Sabha.
Television visuals showed Patel was slapped when he was addressing the gathering. A man could be seen walking on the stage and slap Patel from his right side. Soon, others present at the venue climbed the stage and caught hold of the man.
The man was later detained, reports said.
The incident came a day after a farmer refused to let Patels chopper land on his field. This led to the delay in Congress leaders visit to Lunawada in Gujarats Mahisagar district at the last moment.
Not going to retire; will be by Rahul’s side when he becomes PM: Deve Gowda
Bengaluru: Former prime minister and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda has said that unlike BJP veteran LK Advani, he is not going to retire from active politics, and that if Rahul Gandhi becomes the Prime Minister of the country, he will be by his side.
Talking about his decision to contest the Lok Sabha polls, Deve Gowda said, “I announced three years back that I will not contest elections. There are circumstances now in which I have been forced to contest. There is nothing to hide. I have no ambition of anything but what I always said is that I am not going to retire from active politics.”
Deve Gowda is contesting from Karnataka’s Tumkur parliamentary constituency against GS Basvaraj of BJP.
When asked if he wants to retire like Advani, he replied with an emphatic ‘no’, adding, “I want to save my party first and last the office building.”
Commenting on his son and Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s statement that there is a possibility that Deve Gowda might become the Prime Minister as a consensus candidate, he said: “I am not bothered about this. My concern is Modi will come to Parliament. I have got the guts and conviction to tell it to the face of the PM. I have the courage. If Rahul Gandhi becomes the Prime Minister, I will sit by his side. It is not necessary to become the Prime Minister.”
Speaking about his commitment to the Congress, he said: “Madam Sonia Gandhi has taken the decision to support Deve Gowda even though we are a small party. Now it is my responsibility to move forward with Congress, though I do agree in some states there is no question of any coalition. But in Tamil Nadu, there is a coalition between Congress and DMK and with Sharad Pawar’s party in Maharashtra.”
Responding to accusations of saving the family rather than the party, the JD(S) chief said: “Several leaders who worked with me collectively, have left. Some people are in Congress, some in BJP. I was able to keep the party intact but suffered. I have not allowed my family members to become president of the party.”