Supreme Court should probe Goa Rafale audio link: Congress

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Panaji, March 6 (IANS) The Supreme Court should probe the audio conversation in which state Health Minister Vishwajit Rane reportedly said that Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar at a December Cabinet meeting had said that documents linked to the deal are in his bedroom, the state Congress said on Wednesday.

The suggestion from Goa Congress chief Girish Chodankar came on a day when the Central government informed the apex court that some files related to the Rafale deal were stolen.

Addressing a press conference at the state Congress headquarters, Chodankar also said that the first lead for any investigation about the “stolen Rafale files” should start from the Chief Minister Parrikar’s bedroom.

“One Cabinet Minister has said the CM claimed that all these (Rafale) files are in his bedroom and that audio was out. But now it is almost one-and-half months but no one has filed a police complaint. That means what they are saying in the Supreme Court has a link to Goa and to that audio,” Chodankar told reporters.

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An audio clip featuring Rane and a local journalist — where the former claimed that Parrikar in a December 2018 Cabinet meeting admitted to possessing a stash of files related to the Rafale deal — had created ruckus in Parliament last month. Rane later said that the tape was “doctored”, while Parrikar maintained that no such conversation occurred during the Cabinet meeting.

Although Rane had also demanded a probe by security agencies both at the Centre and in the state into the doctoring of audio, no such formal inquiry has been initiated by the state government to date.

Earlier in the day, the Central government told the apex court that the documents stolen from the Defence Ministry had been used in a series of articles in a national daily, which had critiqued the fighter jet deal.

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Chodankar said that the Supreme Court should take the case of missing Rafale files seriously, especially because the state government agencies have failed to probe the controversial audio conversation, which had the winter session of Parliament stalled earlier this year.

“The Supreme Court should also take the matter seriously, because if the Defence Ministry claims that the files are missing, it is a very serious issue. And at the other end, the previous Defence Minister says the files are in my bedroom.

“I don’t know why the government is not even bothered to check with the Chief Minister or to check with this Minister who has allegedly spoken in that audio. Actually, it is a very serious issue and they have themselves admitted in the court of law,” Chodankar said.

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“The first immediate lead that they have is the audio link and the CM. Actually, they should have filed an FIR against the present Chief Minister who was earlier Defence Minister and Vishwajit Rane who has spoken about it,” he added.

–IANS

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