Nirmala Sitharaman accused Congress of running a smear campaign against the Centre at a global level.
New Delhi: As controversy over Rafale deal continues to intensify with Congress upping its ante against the Modi government, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said the row over the deal is a “perception battle”.
The defence minister added that she would run a nationwide campaign to fight the battle. She further accused the Congress party of running a smear campaign against the Centre at a global level.
“This is a perception battle. We will fight this battle. We'll go to places and state facts on record on Rafale. Congress designs to run a smear campaign against us at an international level,” Nirmala Sitharaman was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.
The Congress has escalated attacks against the Modi government after former French president Francois Hollande stated last week that France had been given no choice about picking Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as Dassault's offset partner in 2016.
However, AFP reported that Hollande told it on the sidelines of a meeting in Canada on Friday that France "did not choose Reliance in any way". When asked whether India had put pressure on Reliance and Dassault to work together, Hollande said he was unaware and "only Dassault can comment on this".
Earlier on Monday, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar also alleged that Congress president Rahul Gandhi has no facts and evidence against the government over the Rafale deal and termed him as a "directionless leader".
Firing fresh salvo at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rahul on Monday accused the prime minister of snatching away money from the poor and handing it over to industrialist Anil Ambani. He also asked the prime minister for answers on why Rafale price was not disclosed and how Ambani got the contract.
"The chowkidar of the country has taken out Rs 20,000 crore from the pockets of the poor, martyrs and the jawans and put it in the pocket of Ambani," Gandhi said at a meeting in Amethi.