Rahul Gandhi protesting Rafale deal

As the BJP stepped up attack on Rahul Gandhi over the Rafale issue, three members of the ruling party in the Lok Sabha on Monday moved a notice of breach of privilege against the Congress president, alleging that he spoke "falsehood" and "misled the House" over the fighter aircraft deal in his speech during a debate in July.

Lok Sabha MP and BJP’s chief whip in Lok Sabha Anurag Thakur, Nishikant Dubey and Sanjay Jaiswal have moved a privilege motion against Congress president Rahul Gandhi over his comments about the Rafale deal and sought an apology for ‘misleading’ the house in a speech he delivered in Lok Sabha on July 20 during the no-confidence motion against the government.

In their notice, they called Gandhi’s price comparison of the aircraft with the UPA ones a ‘figment of his imagination, incorrect and utter falsehood’.

He said: “For reasons of national security, the Government of India has not given out the exact details but has already indicated that the price of the basic aircraft being purchased now as per the 2016 agreement is 9% cheaper and the price of the weaponised aircraft is 20% cheaper compared to the price being negotiated by the UPA.”

It added: “A comparative chart of these prices was submitted by the Government of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in sealed cover. After perusing the prices as claimed by the Government, the Hon’ble Court noted the submission of the Government that there is a commercial advantage in the prices negotiated in the 2016 deal by NDA Government. The court dismissed the challenge on basis of higher price offer as per the 2007 offer.”

The notice stated, “Not only are hs figures factually false, they fail to take into consideration the impact of the escalation clause contained in the 2007 offer. Further, he falsely attempts to compare an ordinary aircraft — a flying instrument with a weaponised aircraft. Obviously, the cost of the weaponry will be much higher.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has intensified its attack on Gandhi following the last week's Supreme Court verdict dismissing petitions seeking a probe into alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal. The apex court had said there is no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 fighter jets from France.

Gandhi has, however, stuck to his allegations of corruption in the purchase and demanded a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).

In their notice against the Congress leader, the BJP MPs quoted Gandhi as saying that the UPA government had agreed to buy the aircraft at Rs 520 crore per unit but when the BJP-led NDA government signed the deal, it cost Rs 1,600 crores "by magic".

"The above statement is entirely untrue.... We categorically assert that the price comparison given by Rahul Gandhi is a figment of imagination, incorrect and utter falsehood. It was an attempt to mislead the House," they alleged in their notice.

They also cited the court order and noted that the government had submitted a comparative chart of prices in a sealed cover to it.

It is now up to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to decide whether to take up the notice or not. If she does take it up, then she may send it to the Privilege Committee for the next course of action.