In Raipur, Congress president brings up Rafale deal and alleged pay-offs by Mehul Choksi

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday launched the party campaign for the Chhattisgarh Assembly election, targeting the BJP government at the Centre over the alleged pay-offs by fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi and the Rafale deal.

At a farmers’ meeting here, Mr. Gandhi alleged, “Mehul Choksi who stole ₹35,000 crore and fled from India deposited lakhs of rupees in the account of our Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s daughter. The Finance Minister did not take any action against him; instead he let him flee the country.”

Mr. Gandhi said this issue was highlighted at a press conference in the Congress headquarters in Delhi, but the television channels blacked out the news.

“You do not lack money, but your money is being snatched away by select industrialists,” he said.

Mr. Gandhi asked the media not to be cowed. “Just like the Army guards our borders, you guard truth within our nation,” he said.

He said industrialist Anil Ambani had no experience in manufacturing defence aircraft and yet he had been chosen as offset partner by Dassault Aviation, makers of the Rafale jet fighters.

“Forget about real aircraft, Anil Ambani might not even have made a paper airplane in his life,” he said.

Mr. Gandhi’s main target during his half-an-hour speech was Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He did not comment on Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh. He also barely spoke on the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy or other farming issues. He spoke briefly on corruption in the State.

Loan waiver

Speakers before him such as Congress leader T.S. Singh Deo promised that if the Congress came to power, farmers’ loans would be waived within 10 days. He also promised ₹2,500 a quintal as the MSP for paddy. The farmers are now getting only ₹1,500 to 1,700 a quintal.

Mr. Gandhi assured the crowd, largely made of Congress workers, that no candidate would be imposed by the high command. “Only those candidates whom the cadres support will get ticket,” he said.

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