Rahul Gandhi Questions Rafale Deal Again, Hits Back at Nirmala Sitharaman

Rahul Gandhi Questions Rafale Deal Again, Hits Back at Nirmala Sitharaman

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 took on Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman attacking the Congress for "shameful" act of exposing Prime Minister Modi's hand in the huge Rafel combat aircraft purchase scam.

Rahul has been raising questions on the Rafale deal inked by the government to buy 38 fighter planes with no technology transfer; ignoring the deal signed by the UPA government to procure 126 planes.

Asked if French Defence Minister Florence Parly raised the issue of purchase of more Rafale fighter jets during her visit to India last month, Sitharaman replied in the affirmative. "The UPA government from 2004-2014 could not arrive on a decision to address this critical necessity of fighters for the IAF". "Why don't you question the PM who changed the entire Rafale deal to help a businessman?" "And, it does not require permission from the government if two private firms come together, which is a matter of their own commercial prudence", she said.

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 deliveries of the aircraft will start from 2019 end, and will be ended in 2022.

The Congress party had accsued Modi government of compromising national interest and security over the Rafale fighter aircraft deal. But the per unit cost zooms to nearly Rs 1,640 crore if the overall deal is taken into account, which includes a deadly weapons package, all spares and costs for 75% fleet availability and performance-based logistics support for five years, among other things, as reported by TOI earlier.

"When we came back in power in 2014, the situation was grim. Twelve long years of negotiations and still (there was) no decision, although critically recognising the need for strengthening the Air Force", said Sitharaman.

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