Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi slammed the opposition over the delay in the procurement of the Rafale fighter aircraft Congress president Rahul Gandhi hit back saying that it was the PM who is “solely responsible”.

“Dear PM, Have you no shame at all? YOU stole 30,000 Cr and gave it to your friend Anil. YOU are solely responsible for the delay in the arrival of the RAFALE jets,” Gandhi tweeted on Saturday just after Prime Minister Modi’s address at the India Today Conclave where he said that the country has suffered due to politics over Rafale.

Pointing to the MiG-21 Bison aircraft that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was flying, Gandhi wrote: “YOU are WHY brave IAF pilots like Wing Cdr. Abhinandan, are risking their lives flying outdated jets.”

 

The MiG-21 Bison, which is being phased out of the Indian Air Force, is an aged Soviet-era aircraft which has been dubbed the ‘flying coffin’ because of the numerous crashes it has been involved in that has left many pilots dead.

At the India Today Conclave, the PM said that the recent incidents including India’s air strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot has made many in India ask why there is no Rafale.

“India is feeling the absence of Rafale. The entire country is saying in one voice today, if we had Rafale probably the result would have been different,” he said.

The PM said that he is open to criticism of his policies but opposition to him should not help terrorists such as Maulana Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed gain.

“The country has suffered a lot due to selfish interests earlier and now politics over Rafale. I clearly ask them (the Opposition) to oppose Modi, point out loopholes in our schemes and criticise the government on the results of its schemes, but do not oppose the security interests of the country,” the PM added.

On Saturday, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the nation witnessed a monologue by a “narcissistic” prime minister sans any sense of accountability.

“When will Modiji take decisive action against Pakistan-sponsored terror? Compromising national security and gross intelligence failure are the characteristic style of a non-functioning Modi government.

“In last 56 months, 498 soldiers and officers have been martyred in Jammu and Kashmir alone. In the month of February 2019 alone, 55 brave soldiers laid down their lives due to the menace of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism,” a statement quoting Surjewala said.