30 January 2019
Panaji: Ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday denied having a discussion with Congress President Rahul Gandhi on the Rafale deal during a brief meeting on Tuesday when Gandhi held a closed-door meeting with the former Defence Minister at the state legislative assembly complex.
Parrikar in his letter to Gandhi on Wednesday also accused the latter of using his courtesy meeting with an "ailing person" for "petty political gains".
The Goa Chief Minister's letter comes a day after Gandhi, hours after meeting Parrikar on Tuesday, told party workers in Kochi, Kerala, that the former Defence Minister had confided in him about the Rafale deal and said that he, as Defence Minister, had nothing to do with the deal eventually struck by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government with France vis-a-vis the purchase of the fighter jets.
"In the five minutes you spent with me, neither did you mention anything about Rafale, nor did we discuss anything about/related to it. Nothing whatsoever about Rafale was even mentioned in your meeting with me. The inter-government agreement and the procurement of Rafale are as per defence procurement procedure," Parrikar said, adding that the fighter aircraft have been procured following all stated procedures keeping national security as top priority.
"It is reported in the media today that you have said quoting me that I was nowhere in the process of procuring Rafale nor did I have any information then about it. I feel let down that you have used this visit for your petty political gains," Parrikar said.
"Paying a courtesy visit and then stooping so low as to make a false statement for petty political gain has raised, in my mind, questions about the sincerity and purpose of your visit itself," Parrikar said in his letter.
The ailing Goa Chief Minister, who is suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer, also said that he was fighting a "life threatening illness", but his "training and ideological strength" were helping him serve Goa irrespective.
"With deep disappointment, I write to you hoping you would put out the truth. Kindly do not use your visit to an ailing person to feed political opportunism," Parrikar said.