The Congress said on Sunday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah did not dare seek Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s resignation as he had information on the Rafale deal he could use to “blackmail” them.
Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Girish Chodankar levelled the charge after the BJP announced that Parrikar will continue as chief minister, ending days of speculation over a leadership change.
“I am sure Manohar Parrikar must be having a lot of information about the Rafale deal as he was the Union defence minister at that time,” Chodankar told reporters.
Parrikar is admitted at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi with a pancreatic ailment, and the Congress has been pitching for a floor test in the Goa Legislative Assembly.
The Congress leader claimed PM Modi and Shah lacked the courage to ask Parrikar to resign from the post because of the Rafale fighter deal.
He repeated the Congress allegation that the deal for 36 French aircraft was “a huge scam” which also involved Modi.
The Bharatiya Janata Party had sent three central observers last weekend to take stock of the political situation after Parrikar was admitted at AIIMS.
Chodankar claimed the state administration had “collapsed” as the ailing CM has not been able to find time for it for the last seven months.
He said besides Parrikar, two other ministers are admitted in the hospital.
If this continued, Goa itself will end up in the ICU, he said.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi earlier on Sunday, attacked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Rafale jet deal, asking them to “stop lying”.
Addressing Jaitley as “Jetlie”, Gandhi wrote, “Mr Jetlie’s specialty is his ability to spin ‘2 truths’, or lies, with fake self-righteousness & indignation to defend the indefensible.”
“It’s high time he, the RM & our PM stop lying and call a JPC to establish the full, uncorrupted truth about the #RafaleScam,” he added.
Gandhi’s tweet was accompanied with the screenshot of a newspaper which questioned the government over former French President Francois Hollande’s remarks regarding a private firm becoming an offset partner in the jet deal at the instance of the Modi government.
The remarks set off a major political slugfest in the country with accusations and counteraccusations flying between the Opposition parties and the government.
Defending the deal, Jaitley questioned the veracity of Hollande’s claims.
In the 40-member state assembly, the Parrikar government has the support of 23 MLAs.
The BJP has 14 MLAs against 16 of the Congress, and Parrikar’s appeal was a key reason it secured support from a cross-section of legislators following last year elections.
(With PTI inputs)