Why did Congress sit on Rafale deal for 10 years: Nirmala Sitharaman

Why did Congress sit on Rafale deal for 10 years: Nirmala Sitharaman

The Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman rubbished the Congress allegations about the Rafale purchase contract and insisted that it is an Inter governmental deal between India and France where due diligence and proper procedure was followed before it was signed in September past year.

The defence minister said the final agreement for 36 Rafale jets was signed in September, 2016, after five rounds of lengthy discussions between Indian and French sides and approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday hit out at defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman over the Rafale deal and said that it was shameful that her boss was silencing her.

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

The Congress is also faulting Modi for damaging the interests of the public sector HAL that would have acquired the technology under the deal negotiated by the UPA government to have indigenous capability to produce more such aircraft indigenously. She also claimed that no private party is involved in the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircrafts. Gandhi tweeted, "Why PM bypassed experienced HAL & gave the deal to AA rated businessman with no defence experience?"

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"Why is the Modi government and Defence Minister hiding the purchase price?"

However, when asked repeatedly about comparative cost of each aircraft negotiated by the then UPA government and the rate at which the deal was sealed a year ago, Sitharaman said she was not running away from sharing the details and asked the officials to give the figures to the media.

Mr Gandhi's retort comes a day after Ms Sitharaman alleged that it was shameful on part of the Congress to raise objections on the fighter aircraft deal.

The Defence Minister had said that the condition of Air Force was very grim in 2014 when the National Democratic Alliance led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected to power. The delivery of the jets is scheduled to begin from September, 2019. "What about the loot?", he tweeted tagging a report on the Rafale deal.

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