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Sitharaman counters Rahul's Rafale charges in LS, says 'it is like flogging a dead horse'


New Delhi, Feb 08: Nirmala Sitharaman, Defence Minister on Friday issued statement in Lok Sabha to counter Rahul Gandhi's Rafale charges, and accused 'The Hindu' of biased reporting, saying it should have published Parrikar's response as well.

[PM Modi directly involved in scam, says Rahul Gandhi while addressing media on Rafale]

Nirmala Sitharaman

Speakig in the Lok Sabha, Sitharaman said,'' If the newspaper wanted to bring out the truth, they would have approached the defence ministry and done a thorough check. They would also have approached the then Raksha Mantri (Parrikar) for his views on it. The said paper has gone ahead and published a report without any facts to back it. They are flogging a dead horse. Every question on Rafale has been answered thoroughly and transparently... not just here in the House, but also in court.''

''Then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar ji replied to that MoD note that remain calm, nothing to worry, everything is going alright. Now, what do you call the NAC led by Sonia Gandhi's interference in earlier PMO? What was that?,'' she further said.

''Congress trying to provoke the army and air force against the government. It is not only unfortunate but dangerous too,'' said Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

"One newspaper has published this report...ethics of journalism demands that there should be a response from the then Defence Minister," Sitharaman said while addressing media outside parliament.

[Rafale: Report claims MoD protested against PMO undermining negotiations]

Meanwhile, the Opposition is voicing against Rahul Gandhi's recent allegation in the Rafale deal row that defence ministry had objected to the Prime Minister's Office "undermining" the Rafale fighter jet deal with France.

Addressing the House, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said, "We demand a joint parliamentary committee, everything will be revealed then, we don't want any explanation now, have heard many explanations, from PM also."

Earlier on Friday, launching a fresh attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Rafale, Congress President Rahul Gandhi accused the prime minister of running "parallel negotiations" with the French side. "For more than a year, we've been saying that PM is directly involved in Rafale scam. Today it is clear that PM himself had been carrying out a parallel negotiation with the French," Mr Gandhi said at a press briefing in New Delhi.

The Opposition has repeatedly targeted the Centre over the deal, alleging bloated prices for the fighter jets and corruption over the involvement of Reliance Defence in the deal, overlooking Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

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