Global News

Congress raises more questions on deal

Congress raises more questions on deal

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday hit back at Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for terming his party's Rafale deal corruption allegations as "Shameful".

The defence minister said that the deal was finalised after five rounds of lengthy discussions between Indian and French sides and approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security. The minister was highly critical of the UPA government for not finalising the Rafale deal during its decade-long rule.

TALKING TO media here, Ms Sitharaman said, "The decision to buy 36 Rafale aircrafts was taken following the due procedure".

She was repeatedly asked by the journalists to share the comparative aircraft costs for the two governments, following Congress's allegations that 36 jets would now be obtained at Rs 58,000 crore whereas the previous agreement would have entailed the procurement of 126 Rafale jets at around Rs 54,000 crore in 2012. "Why PM bypassed experienced HAL and gave the deal to AA rated businessman with no defence experience?"

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India had inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September last year for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs. 58,000 crore, almost one-and-half years after the Prime Minister announced the proposal during a visit to Paris. "The government has negotiated a very good deal", Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said.

She also asked the Minister to take concrete steps on the subject ahead of the State government's proposal to conduct the Global Investors Meet scheduled in September 2018.

"That was the grim situation when this government came to power in 2014 and, therefore, we had to move forward so that the air force is not left with unattended requirements for the sake of preparedness", she said.

Rahul Gandhi's comments come a day after Sitharaman said that the Congress" allegations on the procurement deal are "shameful" and a "disservice' to the armed forces.