Congress on Tuesday gave a breach of privilege notice in the Lok Sabha against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, for ‘misleading’ the House on Rafale deal.
Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge gave a Privilege notice to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan against Ms Sitharaman and Mr Modi, for ‘misleading’ the House on Rafale deal.
In his notice issued against the Defence Minister, Mr Kharge said, ‘Under Rule 222 of the rules of procedure and conduct of business in the Lok Sabha, I hereby give notice of my intention to move a privilege motion against Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the statement made by her during the intervention made in the debate on the No confidence motion in the Lok Sabha on worth July.
Terming the assertions made by her in the house as ‘absolutely false’, Mr Kharge said, ‘the honourable member has wilfully misled not only members of the house but also the entire nation.
‘The Minister had claimed that the commercial cost of the Rafael jet fighter cannot be revealed due to the confidentiality agreement signed between defence ministers of India and France in 2008. The Minister has knowingly and intentionally misled the Parliament by withholding the information that the government is obliged to reveal to Parliament.
‘It is respectfully submitted that in view of the above facts, the notice be accepted and matter be referred to the Privileges committee to start proceedings against the defence minister for misleading the house,’Mr Kharge said.
In his privilege notice against Mr Modi, Mr Kharge said, ‘Under Rule 222 of the rules of procedure and conduct of business in the Lok Sabha, I hereby give notice of my intention to move a privilege motion against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making a misleading statement in his speech on the No confidence motion in the Lok Sabha on 20th July 2018.
‘The Prime Minister had asserted that the demand for revealing the purchase price for Rafale jet fighter was against the interest of the nation and had to be contradicted by both the government’s India and France.
He had further claimed that the acquisition of Rafale jet fighters between India and France is fully transparent, whereas the Defence Minister, in his presence on the Floor of the House, had refused to reveal the price, citing a confidentiality agreement between India and France in 2008.
‘The Prime Minister’s claim on transparency of the agreement are factually incorrect, untrue and deliberately made with the intention to mislead the house. The PM and his cabinet, as per the Constitution Article 75 (3), are collectively accountable to Parliament and through Parliament, to the people of India.’
‘The Prime Minister has, along with his defence minister, deliberately misled the house. It is, therefore, requested that the notice of Breach of privilege be accepted and referred to the Privileges committee for further proceedings,’Mr Kharge said.
The Congress had called the deal a “scam” and contested the claim that the 2008 inter-governmental agreement between India and France, signed during the UPA regime, does not allow the Government of India to reveal the commercial value of the deal.
Former Defence Minister AK Antony, along with Deputy Leader of Congress in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma and party Communications In-charge Randeep Surjewala, on Monday asserted at a press conference that revealing the commercial value of the deal was not covered under any secrecy clause.
The Congress move is being seen as a counter to BJP having already moved a privilege motion against its chief Rahul Gandhi for making “unsubstantiated allegations” against the Prime Minister and the Minister in his speech during the no-confidence motion debate on July 20.