Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the audio clip, in which Goa’s Health Minister Vishwajit Rane claimed that Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had all the files on the Rafale deal in his bedroom, is ‘authentic.’
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Mr. Gandhi claimed that “there might be many other such tapes in circulation even though he didn’t know for sure”.
Mr. Rane, however, claimed in Panaji that the audio clip was ‘doctored’ and Mr. Parrikar never talked about the Rafale deal in any Cabinet meeting of the Goa government.
Mr. Parrikar took to twitter to deny the contents of the audio clip.
“The audio clip released by the Congress party is a desperate attempt to fabricate facts after their lies were exposed by the recent Supreme Court verdict on Rafale. No such discussion ever came up during Cabinet or any other meeting,’’said Mr. Parrikar, during whose tenure the Rafale deal was signed.
“Do you think Mr. Parrikar will not deny it? If you were Mr. Vishwajit Rane, would you not deny it?” Mr Gandhi retorted when he was told about Mr. Parrikar’s denial.
“The Congress played the tape, the Congress party has made the transcript available. I read part of the transcript and the tape is authentic,” he told reporters. However, he had not said the audio clip was authentic in the Lok Sabha where he wanted to play it out.
Asked why he didn’t do so, Mr. Gandhi said: “I asked the Speaker ‘can I play the tape?’ The Speaker refused to allow me to play the tape. Had I played the tape, then the question of authenticity arises.”
The Congress had released the audio clip and the transcripts of a purported conversation between Mr. Rane and another person, whose identity has been kept confidential.
“The Chief Minister makes one interesting statement. That I have all the information of Rafale in my bedroom. He said it’s in my bedroom...here only in the flat...Each and every document of Rafale is with me...that means he is holding them to ransom,” Mr. Rane was heard telling the other person.
“The day those files are out, as stated or threatened by Mr. Parrikar, it will prove what we have always said that Rafale is the biggest scam and the person accountable for it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi,’’said Congress communication chief Randeep Singh Surjewala, while playing out the audio clip to reporters.
“Modi ji says there are no personal allegation against him in the Rafale deal, but this audio is an evidence of his culpability which was earlier established by former French President Francois Hollande,” Mr. Surjewala said.
He alleged that the Prime Minister did not want a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) as he didn’t want the “Rafale secrets to be known even to his party colleagues” and claimed a JPC can find out the truth within 10 days.
Mr. Rane, a former Congress leader who switched over to the BJP immediately after Mr. Parrikar won the trust vote in 2017, said he was being used as a pawn in the power game between the ruling and opposition parties.
“Congress seems to be very frustrated in the election year to stoop so low. I have asked Chief Minister Parrikar to take the help of the State police as well as Central agencies to probe the source of the purported audio conversation and how it went viral,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Congress spokesperson in Goa, Siddhanath Buyao, urged Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to raid Mr. Parrikar’s bedroom to seize the purported files. He also sought protection for the CM and the as yet unidentified person in the audio clip.