Irked over the Congress sniping over Rafale jets and the Balakot air strike, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today snapped out at the party.
PM Modi’s comment — that the country was “feeling the absence of the Rafale jets” during the air strikes and “swarthneeti” (politics of self-interest) was to blame for it — has generated a round of sparring between him and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
Today, addressing a rally at Gujarat’s Jamnagar, PM Modi said: “Please use common sense; what I said was if we had Rafale at the time of air strikes, than none of our fighter jets would have gone down and none of theirs saved”.
He then summed up: “I said if Rafale was acquired in time, it would have made a difference. But they say Modi is questioning our air force strike.”
In his address at the India Today Conclave over the weekend, PM Modi had said: “The country is feeling the absence of Rafale. The entire country is saying in one voice today, what all could have happened if we had Rafale”.
The Congress had been incensed over the speculation that its opposition to the 36-aircraft deal with France had led to a delay in delivery of the fighter jets, which left the Indian Air Force in the lurch during last week’s confrontation with Pakistan over the air strikes on Jaish-e Mohammad camps at Balakot. The air strikes had drawn retaliation from Pakistan and in an aerial dogfight, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who shot down a Pakistan F-16 jet, was captured on February 27.