Congress president Rahul Gandhi addresses a press conference at AICC office | Manvender Vashist/PTI
File photo of Congress president Rahul Gandhi | Manvender Vashist/PTI
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New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi Friday lobbed another retort in his verbal duel with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wondering if his “ulta chor chowkidaar ko daante” jibe was a symptom of “schizophrenia”.

Speaking in Parliament Thursday, Modi had lashed out at the Congress’ charge that his government was responsible for the destruction of important institutions. Citing the Emergency, he added, “Ulta chor chowkidaar ko daante (the thief is scolding the sentry)”.

Asked about Modi’s remarks at a press conference Friday, Gandhi replied, “Is he talking about himself? Now he is both chowkidaar and chor? Is it schizophrenia?”

The press conference also marked the Congress president’s first remarks on brother-in-law Robert Vadra’s ongoing interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over allegations of money laundering.

Vadra is the second high-profile person associated with the Congress to face fire from central investigative agencies within a week — India Today reported last week that the CBI had secured the Centre’s nod to prosecute former finance minister P. Chidambaram in a second case involving alleged “irregular” foreign-investment clearance in deals involving his so

“You can carry on inquiries against Robert Vadra or P. Chidambaram,” Gandhi said at the press conference. “We don’t have a problem. Do as the law says. But give us answers on Rafale too.”

Gandhi’s presser came hours after a report in The Hindu claimed the defence ministry had protested against the Prime Minister’s Office carrying out “parallel negotiations” with France in the Rafale deal.

Citing the report, Gandhi said it was “completely black and white” that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had helped “his friend Anil Ambani” through this deal even as the defence ministry was against it.

“PM Modi himself robbed the air force’s Rs 30,000 crore and gave it to Anil Ambani,” he said. “We have been raising this for a year. Now a report has come where the defence ministry officials say the PM was holding parallel negotiations with the France government,” he said.

Also read: Rafale deal doesn’t need to be scrutinised, rules Supreme Court

‘Supreme Court judgment under question’

The Congress president alleged that the defence ministry and the Prime Minister lied to the Supreme Court on the issue of Rafale, which, he said, also brought the judgment given by the court into question.

“The entire Supreme Court judgment on Rafale becomes questionable now… because information was withheld by the government,” he added.

This was a reference to the fact that the government’s submission before the Supreme Court, which was hearing pleas for a probe into the Rafale deal last year, didn’t mention any role of the PMO in the negotiations, as pointed out in The Hindu report. The court had subsequently dismissed the pleas in December, saying the Rafale deal didn’t need to be scrutinised.

Gandhi called the Prime Minister a “thief”. He added that he was not in favour of using such harsh words, but said “there is no other word to describe what the PM has done”.

“For more than a year, we’ve been saying that PM is directly involved in the Rafale scam. Today it is clear that the PM himself had been carrying out a parallel negotiation with the French,” Gandhi added.

He also said that the party will continue its demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) investigation into its allegations of irregularities in the Rafale deal.

Also read: Rafale row confirms India needs its own defence industry if it has to be a global power

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