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Congress slams ‘shastra puja’ at Rafale handover ceremony in France, Amit Shah hits back

Abhinav Ranjan

The Congress party on Wednesday slammed the 'Shastra Puja' performed by Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in France on the occasion of handing over ceremony of first Rafale fighter jet to the Indian Air Force (IAF). Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said that the government was just 'showing off' and that there was no need of such "drama". "There is no need to do such 'tamasha' (drama). When we bought weapons-like the Bofors gun previously purchased, no one went and brought them while showing off," he told news agency ANI. "Our Air Force officers judge whether they are good or not. These people go, show off, sit inside (the aircraft)," he added. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president and Home Minister Amit Shah was quick to hit back. Addressing an election rally in Haryana's Kaithal, Shah said, "Defence Minister Rajnath Singh performed 'Shastra Pujan' of Rafale yesterday in France. Congress did not like it. Is 'Shashtra Pujan' not performed on Vijayadashami? They should ponder over what needs to be criticised and what not."

On Tuesday, the day country celebrated the festival of Vijayadashmi, Rajnath Singh was in French town of Bordeaux to take the delivery of the first Rafale fighter jet. Singh formally received the first jet from a series of 36 such aircraft India has purchased from France. After the ceremony, he performed a brief 'Shastra Puja' on the new aircraft as he emblazoned it with an 'Om' tilak and laid flowers and coconut before he took off in it for a sortie. The 36 Rafale jets in flyaway condition will be delivered to India before 2022. The first four Rafale jets will arrive in India by May 2020.