Pawar lying about my father, says Parrikar's son

NCP chief Sharad Pawar. (File Photo: IANS)

Panaji (IANS) A day after NCP supremo Sharad Pawar claimed that Manohar Parrikar quit as Defence Minister because of disagreements over the Rafale fighter jet deal, the late Goa Chief Minister's son accused him of lying for political gain.

Parrikar's eldest son Utpal Parrikar, who has taken the plunge into active politics, also said that his father was an "upright individual" and was the "chief architect" of the Rafale aircraft acquisition deal.

"Today, he is not among us, which is why perhaps you are taking the liberty to use his name and speak lies. This is a new low in the Indian political discourse. Being a senior and respected politician, the people of India did not expect such a statement from you, Pawar saheb," he said in a letter to Pawar, which was released to the media on Monday.

Pawar, in a statement on Sunday, alleged that the Rafale deal was "not acceptable" to Parrikar, as a result of which he resigned from the post of Defence Minister. Parrikar served as Defence Minister from 2014-17, when the fighter jet deal was being negotiated between the Indian and French governments.

Utpal Parrikar, however, termed Pawar's comments an "unfortunate and insensitive attempt to invoke my father's name to push blatant falsehoods for political gains". He also obliquely referred to a courtesy visit by Congress President Rahul Gandhi to meet Parrikar in Goa earlier this year, which the late Goa CM's son claims, was also used later for "petty gains".

"Many historic decisions were taken by him for which he will be remembered forever. One of them was the Rafale fighter aircraft acquisition deal of which he was one of the chief architects," Utpal Parrikar said, while commenting on his father's achievements as a minister in the Narendra Modi government.

Utpal Parrikar, who is being tipped to contest from the Panaji assembly seat, formerly represented by his father since 1994, also said that Pawar's comments were part of a "malicious misinformation campaign that seens to hinder the strengthening our armed forces".

This is not the first time that Parrikar's reference in a Rafale deal-related development has triggered controversy.

Earlier this year, Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane created a stir after a purported conversation between him and local journalists was released by the Congress, in which Rane claims that Parrikar in a cabinet meeting in December 2018 had claimed that files related to the Rafale deal were stored in his bedroom.

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