Rafale charges: PM Modi returns Rahul's fire, asks which company Congress is bidding for... VIDEO

NEW DELHI, FEB 7: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday returned Congress President Rahul Gandhi's fire over the Rafale jet deal, saying the opposition party does not want the Air Force to be strong and questioned whether it was bidding for a company.

He also accused the Congress of rendering the Army handicapped due to which it was not in a position to launch surgical strikes.

"I am levelling a serious allegation," he said in his reply in Lok Sabha to the debate on Motion of Thanks on the President's address. 

"I want to say it on the floor of Parliament that the Indian National Congress doesn't want our armed forces to be strong. They don't want our security apparatus to be strong. Which companies are they bidding for that they are acting so shamefully," he said. 

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been intensifying attack on Modi, accusing him of corruption in the multi-billion dollar jet deal with a French company. 

Modi's retort came hours after Gandhi, at a Congress event in Delhi, described him as a "darpok" (coward) and dared him to a five-minute face-to-face debate on issues such as Rafale and national security. 

The Prime Minister said that the armed forces were adversely affected due to delay in procurements under the Congress rule and its personnel did not have bullet-proof jackets, proper shoes, communication equipment or even helmets.

"You had left the Army unarmed. It was not in a position to carry out surgical strikes," he said, adding it is a great dis-service to the nation.

Modi wondered why advanced jets were not procured for 30 years when India's neighbours were equipping themselves with latest weaponry.

"The nation will not forgive you for this sin," the Prime Minister said.

Taking a swipe at the Congress, he said, "They are surprised that there is a defence deal without kickbacks ... they assume that a defence deal cannot happen without commission."

Modi also accused the Congress of insulting Army by calling its chief a "goonda". 

PTI