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

Marsha Scott
November 20, 2017

She said it was only Prime Minister Narendra Modi who boldly chose to sign the deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets.

"Dear RM (Raksha Mantri), what's shameful is your boss silencing you", he tweeted, asking her to otherwise answer three questions she skipped in an official Press conference here on Friday. "We had to move forward fast", she said. Gandhi said the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman should explain the final price of a Rafale jet. We have negotiated for 36 French fighter aircraft Rafale (at a price) lower than that in the contract.

He also asked her whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken permission from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) before announcing the purchase of the Rafale fighter aircraft in Paris.

Although government sources have previously argued that the two prices can not be compared because of different add-ons, weapon suites, training, maintenance and infrastructure requirements in the two agreements, Sitharaman said that "we have obtained a far better deal per aircraft (than the UPA)".

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She said the present government addressed the "vacuum" in the national security structure created by the indecisiveness of the UPA dispensation by "immediately" going for procurement of 36 aircraft in a fly-away condition. Gandhi tweeted, "Why PM bypassed experienced HAL & gave the deal to AA rated businessman with no defence experience?"

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.

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. "Twelve long years of negotiations and still (there was) no decision, although critically recognising the need for strengthening the Air Force", said Sitharaman.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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