Arun Jaitley said he would prove that the Congress was spreading lies over the deal.
New Delhi: Amid a war of words between the treasury benches and the Opposition over the Rafale jet deal, the Congress on Monday said in Lok Sabha that it is ready for a debate on the controversial matter on January 2, 2019.
“Jaitley ji has thrown a challenge... We are ready for a debate on January 2. Please decide a time,” Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was present in the House when Mr Kharge made the comments. He made these remarks soon after the House gave its nod to additional gross expenditure of `85,948.86 crore during the current fiscal ending March 2019.
At 2 pm, when the House was to take up discussion on Supplementary Demands for Grants, Mr Kharge repeated his demand for a joint parliamentary committee to probe the Rafale deal.
At this, finance minister Arun Jaitley accused the Congress of “running away” from discussion and challenged Mr Kharge to begin the discussion on the issue immediately. Mr Jaitley added that the government was ready to give a reply. Mr Jaitley said he would prove that the Congress was spreading lies over the deal.
When the House was about to be adjourned for the day, Mr Kharge reminded Speaker Sumitra Mahajan of the debate and sought a time for it.
Ms Mahajan said she will decide on the timing but Mr Kharge can’t extract a decision on the date and time immediately.
“You keep your challenges to yourself. Don’t challenge me,” a peeved Ms Mahajan said.
Earlier in the day, Congress had again sought to raise the issue of an alleged scam in the Rafale deal, inviting a sharp reaction from the government which asked the Opposition not to “run away” from a debate on the issue.
Congress members have been raising the matter since the start of the Winter Session of Parliament on December 11, demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Rafale deal.
During Zero Hour, Congress members trooped into the well of the House displaying placards and shouting slogans on the issue.
Raising the matter, Mr Kharge alleged there has been a scam in the deal and asked why the government was not disclosing the price of jets. He also demanded a JPC probe into the Rafale deal amid loud protests from BJP members.
In response, home minister Rajnath Singh said that repeating the same lie again and again would not make it a truth.
The government is ready for discussion on the matter but why is the Congress “running way”, the minister said.