Senior Congress leader and former Member of Parliament Mallikarjun Kharge dubbed the entire sequence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh receiving the first Rafale jet in France as a “tamasha” (drama). He recalled that the Congress did not “show off” in such a fashion when weapons like Bofors were purchased during their regime. These comments come a day after Singh performed Shastra Puja (worship of weapons) on the occasion of Dussehra. During this process, he emblazoned the aircraft with an ‘Om’ and laid flowers, coconut and lemons to ward off the evil eye.
Kharge said, "There is no need to do such 'tamasha' (drama). When we bought weapons-like the Bofors gun previously purchased, no one went and brought them while showing off.”
He even cast aspersions about the capability of the Rafale, observing that the Indian Air Force (IAF) officers would be the best individuals to judge this. Kharge also took a dig at the sortie Singh took in the aircraft.
"These people go, show off, sit inside (the aircraft),'"he opined.
Twitterati were quick to pick up on the mention, pointing out the elephant in the room:
The ‘tamasha’ came later, when we learnt how money had surreptitiously changed hands in the Bofors deal & because of that Rajiv Gandhi & the Congress were duly rejected by the electorate. https://t.co/Oo7tSsdKNo— Nandini 🇮🇳 (@NAN_DINI_) October 9, 2019
No one:— Gappistan Radio (@GappistanRadio) October 9, 2019
Congress: Lets remind the country about Bofors scandal https://t.co/I2TL8mLtWG
Khargeji probably having a 'senior moment'. Has forgotten why the Congress did not want to be reminded of Bofors for decades. The poor gun got respectability only during Kargil war. https://t.co/Bb8CCZeaJw— Smita Prakash (@smitaprakash) October 9, 2019
The BJP did not waste much time in getting back at Kharge. It alleged that the Congress had a problem with the modernization of the Air Force and the Indian traditions. The party also raked up the Bofors scam.
Congress has problems with:— BJP (@BJP4India) October 9, 2019
Air Force modernisation.
Indian customs and traditions.
For a Party used to worshiping Quattrocchi, 'Shastra Puja' is naturally a problem.
And, Kharge Ji, thank you for reminding us about the Bofors Scam. https://t.co/c2GummCK6x
The government of India signed a deal with the French government and Dassault Aviation to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets to bolster India’s urgent requirement on the eastern and western borders in September 2016. It costs more than 7.8 billion euros. Being a 4.5 generation aircraft, it will become IAF's most modern fighter jet. Furthermore, missiles like the Meteor and the Scalp would ensure that the IAF can strike enemy territory nearly 600 km away without crossing the air space. Some of the other India-specific modifications include radar warning receivers, low band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems.