Senior Congress leader and former Union Home and Finance Minister P Chidambaram has attempted damage control over the statements of his fellow party leader Veerappa Moily calling the IAF Chief a liar.
Addressing a news briefing, Chidambaram made to attack the government over the Rafale deal and issued a clarified as well as some advice to the forces:
"Nobody is accusing the Chief of the Air Force. In fact, my respectful request to the Army and Air Force and military officers is to please stay out of the debate."
Chidambaram added, "We are not saying Rafale is a bad aircraft. After all, it's the UPA government which contracted the Rafale aircraft. We're not saying Rafale is a bad aircraft. We're saying Rafale is a good aircraft. We contracted to buy 126 aircraft demanded by the Indian Air Force. This government is buying only 36 aircraft. If IAF Chief wants to make a comment, he should really ask why are you only buying 36 aircraft when our requirement is 126 aircraft. That's the question he should be asking."
Speaking at a news briefing held at the Jodhpur airbase on Wednesday, IAF Chief BS Dhanoa said the following in response to the question 'Do you think there was a need for the Rafale':
"Who has said that we don't need Rafale? We are saying we need it. The government is saying we need it. Supreme Court has given a good judgment and even inside it has said that the Air Force needs it, that it took so long for it to arrive. Our regional adversaries or neighbours, whatever you may call them, they have upgraded."
He added, "Even the SC has given a very fine judgment. Some very fine comments have been given by the Finance Minister and the Raksha Mantri."
In a shocker, minutes after Republic TV broke the story, the Congress launched an attack at the IAF chief, accusing him of lying. Former Union Minister Veerappa Moily said:
"IAF Chief is not fine. He is lying and suppressing facts. He had visited HAL in Bangalore and considered it as a competent authority. Now for him to say that the deal is fine, I don't know what to say."
The BJP responded thusly:
Even in the aftermath of the Supreme Court dismissing pleas seeking a court-monitored probe into the Rafale deal, the Congress has insisted that it is a scam. Speaking at the Republic Summit on Wednesday, BJP chief Amit Shah justified his party holding 70 news briefings to call out the Congress for its allegations and asked Rahul Gandhi to reveal his source for the information based on which the allegations were made. Meanwhile, speaking at the same forum, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley called the Congress campaign immature, highlighting how Rahul Gandhi had compared the UPA's provisional price for a non-weaponised Rafale jet with the current price of a weaponised jet.
P Chidambaram issued the following statement to detail his attack against the government in the Rafale deal: