‘Parrikar Has Rafale Files in Bedroom, Holding Govt to Ransom’: Congress Plays Goa Minister’s Tape

File photo of Manohar Parrikar.

File photo of Manohar Parrikar.

However, there was no confirmation on whether it was the voice of Goa health minister Vishwajit Rane in the audio. The identity of the other person was also not ascertained.

New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday demanded answers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's purported claim that he had files on Rafale "lying in his bedroom" and asked if this was the reason why a joint parliamentary committee probe was not being ordered.

Ahead of the debate on the issue in Lok Sabha, where Rahul Gandhi will spearhead the party’s attack, the Congress released an audio tape of Goa’s health minister Vishwajit Pratapsingh Rane, in which he purportedly made the sensational claim about Parrikar holding on to the files.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala came out with a conversation purportedly between Goa minister Vishwajit Rane and another person ‘X’.

Rane purportedly can be heard saying that during a Goa cabinet meeting last week, Parrikar stated he had an entire file and all documents relating to the Rafale deal lying in the bedroom of his flat and no one could remove him. Surjewala played this purported conversation for the media outside Parliament.

He quoted Rane as saying, "The chief minister made a very interesting statement, that I have all the information of Rafale in my bedroom....that's means he is holding them to ransom. He said it is in my bedroom here only in my flat, each and every document on Rafale."

The Congress has been alleging for some time now that Parrikar is not being removed as Goa CM despite his ill health as he has some incriminating documents on the Rafale deal.

However, there was no confirmation on whether it was the voice of Rane in the audio. The identity of the other person was also not ascertained.

Rane’s statements are met with shock by the person ‘X’, who gasps ‘My God’ and ‘What are you saying?’ in the audio clip.

Rane adds in the tape released by Congress that he didn’t understand why Parrikar revealed he was in possession of the Rafale papers and guessed that it was perhaps done so that someone present in the meeting could inform Delhi.

The BJP has alleged that the Congress is only "peddling lies" on the Rafale issue.

Both Parrikar and Rane have denied any such conversation ever took place. The Goa CM tweeted that the audio clip released by the Congress party is a desperate attempt to fabricate facts after their lies were exposed by the recent Supreme Court verdict on Rafale. “No such discussion ever came up during Cabinet or any other meeting,” he wrote.

Rane called the audio tape doctored and lashed out at the Congress. He said he had written to BJP president Amit Shah, clarifying his position.

"Congress has stooped to such a low level to doctor a tape to create miscommunication between the cabinet and CM. Mr Parrikar has never made any reference to Rafale or any documents. Have asked him for a criminal investigation into this," he said.

Surjewala, however, said the tape makes it clear that the 'chowkidaar is chor' (the watchman is a thief), in an apparent reference to Modi.

"Now the prime minister should answer. The country is demanding answers as to what secrets in the Rafale 'scam' are lying inside Manohar Parrikar's flat and bedroom," he claimed, asking why is the 'chowkidaar' fearing Parrikar.

"There was corruption and wrongdoing in the Rafale scam and it is all recorded in the files. Those files are with Mr Parrikar. Why are they being hidden? If Mr Modi has nothing to hide, then why is Mr Parrikar keeping those files in his bedroom and threatening everybody that nobody can do anything against him, for he has the Rafale files," he alleged.

The Congress has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of changing the terms of the Rafale deal that were agreed in the UPA era to favour Anil Ambani firm Reliance Defence and is demanding a joint parliamentary committee probe into it. The party accepted the government’s “challenge” to hold a discussion in Lok Sabha on the purchase of the 36 fighter aircraft from France, promising a stormy start to 2019.

The Supreme Court had recently cleared the government of allegations linked to the Rafale deal. There is no reason to doubt the decision-making process behind the Rafale jet deal, the court had said in a huge reprieve to the government. But this has not stopped the Congress from alleging wrongdoing in the deal.

Former ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, along with advocate Prashant Bhushan, have requested the Supreme Court to review of its December 14 decision. The plea alleges that the Rafale verdict relies upon "patently incorrect claims" made by the Centre in an unsigned note given to the Supreme Court. They have also sought that the plea be heard in an open court.

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