Congress allegation on Rafael deal shameful: Defence Minister Sitharaman

Congress allegation on Rafael deal shameful: Defence Minister Sitharaman

Congress allegation on Rafael deal shameful: Defence Minister Sitharaman

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi slammed the Narendra Modi government saying it was "shameful" that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was being silenced by the PM in connection with Rafale deal. "Before the inter-governmental agreement with France, it was cleared by the CCS", she said.

But Sitharaman, despite repeated and pointed questions, did not provide the "comparative costs per aircraft" between the 36-fighter contract inked by the NDA government in September 2016 and the original 126-fighter deal under negotiation during the UPA government's tenure. It was not financially prudent to negotiate ToT for just 36 fighters, she said.

Rahul questioning why the deal given to a businessman with "no experience" is a repeat of a question he tweeted also two days ago on Thursday: "Can you explain "Reliance" on someone with nil experience in aerospace for Rafale deal?"

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Referring to the delays, she said the UPA government can be accused of "error of ommission" as the Indian Air Force was in critical need of the fighter jets.

While the Congress was alleging that a scam was brewing in the deal, the BJP claimed that the renegotiated deal was transparent and better than the deal negotiated by the previous UPA government. The delivery of the jets is scheduled to begin from September, 2019.

The Congress had alleged the government caused "insurmountable loss" of taxpayers' money by signing the deal worth Rs 58,000 crores and claimed that the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence Limited that demanded the Congress had been unfairly picked to be the French firm's Indian partner.

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"I am amazed over the patently baseless allegations being levelled by the Congress party on the whole Rafale deal", Prasad told reporters.

Sitharaman said that 36 Rafale fighters were bought as the government wanted to procure fighter jets at the earliest, and added that more fighter jets will have to be bought to meet the Indian Air Force's requirements.

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