Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday described the allegations surrounding the procurement deal for 36 Rafale deal as “shameful”, insisting that the fighter plane deal was finalised following a transparent procedure.
“These allegations are shameful…The deal was finalised following a transparent procedure,” Sitharaman told reporters.
Her comments came a day after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of having changed the entire Rafale fighter plane deal “to help a businessman”. READ MORE | Rahul Gandhi accuses PM Modi of altering Rafale deal to help ‘businessman’
The Congress has been alleging that a “huge scam is brewing” in the procurement of the 36 fighter jets from France and accused the Prime Minister of promoting interests of Reliance Defence Limited.
Calling the bickering over the deal as “disservice” to the armed forces, the defence minister also cited the urgent requirement of the Indian Air Force as the main reason for sealing the deal.
Refuting the allegations, Sitharaman 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.
She also accused the UPA government of sitting over the proposed procurement of jets for 10 years.
Smt @nsitharaman on #Rafale : ” The present govt addressed the vacuum in our national security structure created by the indecisiveness of 10 yr long UPA regime by immediately procuring 36 aircraft in a fly-away condition” (1)
— Raksha Mantri (@DefenceMinIndia) November 17, 2017
On Thursday, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa threw his weight behind the central government over the Rafale aircraft deal, saying the government had negotiated a better deal on Rafale jets than the previous one. ALSO READ | Govt negotiated a very good Rafale aircraft deal: IAF chief
“There is no controversy. What is the controversy, I don’t understand. It is not overpriced. The government has negotiated a very good deal. We have negotiated a better deal than we did with Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). In fact, the price of 36 aircraft is lower than in the MMRCA contract as we are getting 50 per cent off-set and service facility, and I think the government has negotiated a very good deal.”
With PTI inputs