Rahul dares PM to debate on corruption, demonetisation
New Delhi: As the campaigning for the first phase of Lok Sabha election 2019 for the 91 seats came to an end on Tuesday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has yet again challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to debate with him on the issue of corruption. Gandhi in a tweet asked PM Modi to debate with him on the issues of Rafale, Anil Ambani, Nirav Modi and demonetisation.
Asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday if he was "scared" of debating with him on corruption, the Congress president suggested that they could go "open book" for it.
Hitting back on Congress president statement, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Congress president Rahul Gandhi does not have the "moral right" to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a debate on corruption as he is himself facing a corruption case and is on bail.
"He (Rahul) is himself on bail, his mother (Sonia Gandhi) and his brother-in-law (Robert Vadra) are also on bail (in corruption cases). He should first explain about the corruption charges he is facing (in the National Herald case). You don't have the moral right and conduct to talk on the honesty and integrity of the Prime Minister. Our government has worked honestly in the past five years," Prasad said, and referred to the seizure of crores of rupees during Income Tax raids on a close aide of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath.
"Dear PM, scared of debating me on corruption? I can make it easier for you. Let's go open book, so you can prepare: 1. Rafale + Anil Ambani 2. Nirav Modi 3. Amit Shah + demonetisation (sic)," Rahul Gandhi tweeted on Tuesday as PM Modi addressed a rally at Maharashtra's Latur, where he attacked the Congress's manifesto as a document that "speaks the same language as Pakistan's".
The BJP has scoffed at the idea and described the Congress chief as an ignorant politician.
After releasing the Congress manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls earlier this month, Gandhi had challenged the prime minister to debate with him on the issues of national security, corruption and foreign policy.
The Congress president has from time to time offered to sit down for a face-to-face debate with PM Modi on a range of contentious issues. In January, he took a swipe at the Prime Minister by challenging with a 20-minute one-on-one US presidential-style debate on the Rafale fighter jet deal. "Just give me 20 minutes to debate with the PM... the one-on-one debate on Rafale, combat jets... but he doesn't have the guts," Gandhi had said.
The Congress claims that the government had finalised an overpriced deal to benefit industrialist Anil Ambani, whose firm Reliance Defence, despite lacking experience, was recommended as an offset partner for Dassault Aviation, the company manufacturing the Rafale aircraft. Both Dassault and the government have denied the Congress allegations.
The government has also frequently come under the opposition's attack over businessmen leaving the country after defrauding banks. The Congress has accused the BJP of not bringing businessmen like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya to India quickly to face trial for alleged financial crimes.
The Congress maintains that the overnight scrapping of high-value currency notes by PM Modi in November 2016 has broken the back of the country's informal sector. However, the government has denied the claims of the Congress. The centre has said that the objective of demonetisation has been met and the opposition is looking for an issue where there is none.
At a rally in Latur on Tuesday, PM Modi asked first-time voters to support the BJP for a strong government in the centre, and tore into the Congress, saying Rahul Gandhi's party was talking the language of Pakistan. "This is a new India that will eliminate terrorists at their backyard," Modi said.