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Addressing the country’s youth, Gandhi said the minister was attempting to mislead them. It was a straight question and without answering that she “ran away”, the Congress chief said. (Express photo: Anil Sharma)

After a long debate on Rafale deal in Parliament, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday said Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman gave a long speech but did not answer any of his posers and “ran away”.

Talking to reporters after Sitharaman gave the government’s reply on the Rafale fighter jet deal issue in the Lok Sabha, Gandhi said, “The defence minister did not answer any of the questions I asked on the Rafale deal. She did not even take the name of Anil Ambani.”

Read: We don’t do defence dealings, we deal in defence: Sitharaman on Rafale charges

Gandhi said he put two questions to the minister towards the end of the debate and asked her to reply in yes or no. “I asked that after a long negotiation process, those people who participated in that negotiations — Air Force chief, defence minister, secretaries, Air Force officials — when the prime minister did a ‘bypass surgery’… did the Air Force people object, yes or know,” Gandhi said.

“And you saw that instead of answering this, the defence minister started doing drama that ‘I have been insulted, I was called a liar’,” he said.

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Addressing the country’s youth, Gandhi said the minister was attempting to mislead them. It was a straight question and without answering that she “ran away”, the Congress chief said.

“The PM cannot come (to Parliament), and the chief minister of Goa is saying I have a file and I will get back at the PM. She gave a two-and-a-half hour speech and did not answer any questions,” Gandhi said.

Earlier, Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday tore into Rahul Gandhi-led Congress over the Rafale deal, alleging the party never intended to purchase the fighter jets “till something else was done”. “You stopped the deal, forgetting the Air Force was suffering. The deal didn’t get you money,” she asserted.

The minister was delivering a point-by-point rebuttal on the allegations made by the grand old party in the Lok Sabha and also rubbished speculations that the fighter aircraft were “available off the shelf”. Taking a swipe at the Congress party over its allegation that the government did favour to Anil Ambani by making his company the offset partner of the Rafale deal, the defence minister reminded it of Bofors scam and said, “For every ‘AA (Anil Ambani)’ there is a ‘Q (Quattrocchi)’ and ‘RV (Robert Vadra)’,” she said.

Sitharaman also accused the Congress of shedding “crocodile tears for HAL”. “Congress is shedding crocodile tears over HAL not getting the deal, why didn’t it settle the issue during its tenure?” she asked.

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