Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday slammed Congress president Rahul Gandhi of using his courtesy visit to him for petty political gains. On Tuesday, Rahul met Parrikar and inquired about his health. Hours after the meeting, the Congress chief said that Parrikar stated he had nothing to do with the 'new (Rafale) deal' that was "orchestrated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to benefit Anil Ambani".
In a letter to the Congress chief, Parrikar asserted that in the 'five-minute meeting with Rahul Gandhi', there was no mention of the Rafale deal. Slamming Rahul, the Goa CM wrote, "Reading media reports covering your visit to my office has caused me distress. 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 your petty political gains. In the 5 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," he added.
The ailing Goa CM further reiterated that the Inter Government Agreement (IGA) and the procurement of Rafale have been done as per the Defence Procurement Procedure. "I have said this before and wish to reiterate it again in today's context too. The fighter aircraft are procured following all stated procedures keeping national security as top priority."
In a jibe at Rahul, Parrikar further wrote, "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."
"Here am I fighting a life-threatening illness. Due to my training and ideological strength, I wish to serve Goa and its people against any/all odds. I thought your visit would give me your good wishes in that cause of serving our people. Little did I know that you had other intentions. With deep disappointment, I write to you hoping that you would put out the truth. Kindly do not use your visit to an ailing person to feed political opportunism," Parrikar added.
Parrikar, 63, has not been keeping good health since 2018 due to a pancreatic ailment. He couldn't attend his office due to frequent hospitalisations.
Rahul has been relentlessly targetting PM Narendra Modi over the deal to purchase Rafale fighter jets from France. The Congress had released an unverified audio tape in 2018 in which Goa Health Minister Vishwajeet Rane purportedly told an unidentified person that Parrikar was holding the government to ransom because he was in possession of the Rafale deal files. Both Parrikar and Rane had dismissed the tapes as fabricated.