The controversies surrounding the Rafale deal is a non-issue for the Indian voter who is likely to retain full faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership in the upcoming Lok Sabha election, Finance, Corporate Affairs, Coal and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said in the wake of the fresh revelations by The Hindu on “parallel negotiations” by the PMO in the €7.87 billion deal.
Speaking to the press in the financial capital on Saturday, Mr. Goyal said insinuations and allegations of corruption and cronyism in the deal were only a figment of the Opposition’s imagination and had no basis whatsoever in reality.
“They can [Opposition] show whichever documents they want, but the people of India have full faith in the leadership provided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At the least, the allegations are only keeping the Opposition busy and away from the real issues of public interest,” the Minister said in reaction to a question if the controversial Rafale deal will impact the Bharatiya Janata Party’s chances in the elections. “This is and will be a non-issue for the voters,” he said.
According to a recent report in The Hindu , at height of the negotiations over the controversial €7.87-billion Rafale deal between India and France, the Defence Ministry had raised strong objections to “parallel negotiations” conducted by the Prime Minister's Office with the French side.
The Opposition has since alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had consistently undermined the Air Force and Defence Ministry to benefit his “cronies” in the Rafale deal.
Talks on with Sena
Mr. Goyal, who was speaking on the sidelines of the party programme to launch the Bharat Ke Mann Ki Baat initiative in Maharashtra, said the consultations with the Shiv Sena for an alliance in the State were going on and could come to a conclusion soon.
Alluding to the demands for simultaneous elections, the Minister said it cannot be selectively applied to Maharashtra and Mr. Modi would only look to move in that direction if there was a national consensus on it.
Objecting to West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee’s alleged efforts to disturb BJP’s poll preparations in the State, Mr. Goyal said the anarchy created by the Trinamool leaders was condemnable. They blocked preparations for even the Prime Minister’s rallies while not making arrangements for lakhs of voters who wanted to come and hear him talk, Mr. Goyal claimed.