Rahul Gandhi gestures while being garlanded during a political rally at Bajipura village on Friday. Agence France-Presse
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday admitted to the Supreme Court that he erred in saying that the court called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a thief. Expressing regret, Rahul said he had made the remark against Modi “in the heat of campaiging.”
At the same time, Gandhi on Monday challenged Modi to a 15-minute debate on corruption alleging malfeasance in the Rafale deal with France. “I challenge Mr Narendra Modi to a 15-minute debate on corruption in the Race Course Road (now renamed as the Lok Kalyan Marg, where the official residence of the prime minister is situated) or anywhere else. Open debate on corruption one-on-one between Modi and me. We will talk over corruption. I am telling you Mr Narendra Modi won’t be able to face the nation after this.
“Mr Narendra Modi, come and take the challenge...Don’t be scared.” BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi had filed a contempt case in the court against Rahul, seeking initiation of contempt for attributing his statement to the top court.
Rahul said he was misquoted saying that the Supreme Court said “Chowkidar ne chori ke hai (Supreme Court said that Chowkidar is involved in a theft).” “My political opponents wrongly projected that I had deliberately and intentionally suggested that the Supreme Court had said ‘Chowkidar chor hai.’ Nothing could be farther from my mind,” he said in his statement to the Supreme Court.
“It is also clear that no court would ever do that (say Chowkidar chor hai) and hence the unfortunate references (for which I express regret) to the court order and to the political juxtaposition in the same breath in the heat of the political campaigning ought not to be construed as suggesting that the court had given any finding or conclusion in Rafale deal,” he said.
In a blow to the Modi government, the Supreme Court ruled on April 10 that classified documents accessed by the media can be used as evidence to consider requests to review its clean bill to the Rafale deal. In cheering the order, Rahul said: “I want to thank the Supreme Court. The entire country is saying that Chowkidar chor hai(Chowkidar has committed theft). It is a day of celebration that the Supreme Court has talked about justice.”
The BJP accused him of putting words in the mouth of the top court and sued him for contempt.
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