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

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday rubbished Congress party's allegations of bypassing the procedures in procuring 36 Rafale aircrafts from France, saying that the deal for the planes was done in a transparent manner and had to be struck quickly keeping in mind the defence preparedness of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The Congress vice-president hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his response, and said, "Dear RM (Raksha Mantri), what is shameful is your boss silencing you". "The UPA government from 2004-2014 could not arrive on a decision to address this critical necessity of fighters for the IAF". "We had to move forward fast", she said.

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 previous year.

The Congress has accused the NDA government of changing the "entire deal" to benefit a businessman.

The deal for buying 126 Rafale fighter jets - with 108 to be made in India - from France was initiated in 2000, she said, and the UPA government had started negotiating the price with the L-1 (lowest bidder), Dassault Aviation of France, in December 2012. She also claimed that no private party is involved in the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircrafts. "Why PM bypassed experienced HAL & gave the deal to AA rated businessman with no defence experience?"


"When we came back in power in 2014, the situation was grim".

India is buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France under a government-to-government agreement, and there have been talks of purchasing more of the fighter jets as a follow-on order.

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.

Sitharaman's statement came a day after Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa rebutted the Congress accusations on Rafael.

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