Oppn’s Rafale charges won't harm BJP in elections: Goyal

9 Feb 2019

The Opposition's "baseless" allegations about the Rafale fighter jet deal will not affect the BJP's poll prospects, Union minister Piyush Goyal said here today.
Goyal was speaking to the media after the party launched "Bharat ke mann ki baat, Modi ke saath", a month-long exercise to seek people's suggestions to help it prepare its manifesto. Asked if the Rafale issue, which the Congress has been raising consistently, alleging corruption, will impact the BJP in coming Lok Sabha polls, Goyal replied in the negative. "We have been going around the country and nobody has ever raised this issue and nobody has ever worried about it, because there is complete trust in Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The people of India trust Modi," the minister said.
"Absolutely baseless" allegations were being made, he said, adding, "These insinuations have no basis at all. So, I don't think this is an issue in the elections." The party is happy that a "non-issue" like Rafale "kept the Opposition busy while the BJP focuses on development and reaches out to the people", the Union minister said. Asked whether there would be simultaneous Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly polls, Goyal indicated that it was unlikely. There has to be a consensus among all the parties for conducting simultaneous polls across the country, as proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and "it (the concept) could not be applied selectively", he said. Minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar were also present on the occasion. On state Congress chief Ashok Chavan's statement that they would like the newly-appointed Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra to campaign in Maharashtra, Goyal said the BJP "welcomes" it, and every party should put its "best foot forward".
"Now it is accepted that their party president and leader (Rahul Gandhi) has failed. So they must make efforts (to win polls). They should find someone else if she too fails," he said. "It is unfortunate for the country that dynastic politics has reached a level where they do not have any leader beyond the family," the Union minister added. On NCP supremo Sharad Pawar hinting that he may once again fight a Lok Sabha election (after announcing some years ago that he was retiring from electoral politics), Goyal said, "We welcome it...so that we get one more opportunity to defeat him from one more seat." (PTI)