Rafale deal: Nirmala Sitharaman slams Congress, calls allegations 'shameful'

Gladys Abbott
November 19, 2017

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday again questioned the deal of procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets with France. "Why PM bypassed experienced HAL & gave the deal to AA rated businessman with no defence experience?"

India and France signed an inter-government agreement for purchase of 36 Rafale fighters, off-the-shelf, on September 23 this year.

The opposition party also alleged that the aircraft were being purchased at much higher rates than what was decided after the completion of the tender process under the previous UPA government.

Asked if it meant the price under the current government-to-government deal is lesser, she said "absolutely". Former Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, in a press conference days before retiring last year in December had said that the IAF needs at least 200 more fighter jets in next 10 years.

"These allegations are shameful.The deal was finalised following a transparent procedure", Sitharaman told reporters.

India inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procuring 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore, almost one-and-half years after Prime Minister Modi announced the proposal during a visit to Paris.

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"Repeated attempts at shoddy cover-up and complete non- transparency in purchase of Rafale aircraft have raised serious questions on national interests and national security by the Modi government".

"Through the entire decade 2004-2014, the UPA government was unable to come to a decision to strengthen our defence preparedness. The country is seeking answers for the questions and she will have to answer it", he said.

"Before the inter-governmental agreement with France, it was cleared by the CCS", she said.

Seetharaman said the State had to work out a futuristic proposal as what it is going to do for the next 50 years as technology is becoming obsolete within a year.

Separately, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the charges levelled by the Congress over the Rafale deal were "baseless".

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