Ready for debate on Rafale: Congress

A discussion will make it clear that the Opposition party was spreading lies, says Jaitley

The Congress on Monday said it is ready for a debate on the Rafale deal and requested Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to hold it on January 2.

“Jaitley ji has thrown a challenge … We are ready for debate on January 2. Please decide a time,” said the Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge.

Mr. Kharge got up from his seat and made these remarks soon after the Lok Sabha passed a Bill to give its approval to an additional gross expenditure of ₹85,948.86 crore during the current fiscal ending March 2019.

Demand for JPC probe

When the Lok Sabha met after the lunch break, Mr. Kharge reiterated the party’s demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the Rafale deal. At this point, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told Mr. Kharge that the Opposition should allow the discussion on the supplementary grants and asserted that the government was prepared to give a reply.

When Mr. Kharge accused the Finance Minister of “running away” from discussion, Mr. Jaitley hit back stating that a discussion on the Rafale deal would make it clear the Congress was “spreading lies over the deal”.

Speaker retorts

When the House was about to be adjourned for the day, Mr. Kharge reminded Speaker Sumitra Mahajan of the debate and sought a time for it.

“You keep your challenges to yourself. Don’t challenge me,” an angry Speaker retorted.

Congress members were shouting slogans on the Rafale deal through the day and during the zero hour at noon, Mr. Kharge raised the demand for a JPC probe once again and asked why the government was not disclosing the price of the fighter jets.

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was present in the House.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh intervened and said that repeating the “same lie again and again will not make it a truth”. BJP members too countered the Congress members with loud protests.

Amid the din, BJP member Ravindra Kumar Pandey raised the instances of jobs not being provided under the MGNREGA in Jharkhand. The Biju Janata Dal’s Bhratruhari Mahtab raised the issue of UPSC candidates with a non-English medium background being affected by the introduction of the Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT), in the Civil Services examination.

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