Amid the ongoing mud-slinging over Rafale fighter jet deal, Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday told BJP functionaries to go on the offensive to counter the Opposition’s allegations on the deal instead of being defensive.
“Reliance Defence will be supplying some parts to Dassault. What (aircraft) will be assembled in Nagpur and who should be Dassault’s vendor is their decision,” PTI quoted Gadkari as saying at a state-level BJP meeting in Mumbai. “Dassault has many international parts suppliers. It is Dassault’s decision whom to appoint as their vendor,” he said.
The Congress has claimed that the cost per aircraft is triple compared to the one fixed by the previous UPA government. It has also claimed that the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was kept out of the offset deal with the French firm to benefit Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence.
The road transport and highways minister alleged that the Opposition was trying to create confusion about the deal. “The Indian government had nothing to do with it (Dassault’s choice of Indian partner). (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi also has nothing to do with the deal. The Opposition is unnecessarily creating confusion about this deal. We are a transparent government. We should be on the offensive and not be defensive on it,” Gadkari was quoted as saying by the agency.
Speaking on the plight of aircraft in the country, the Union minister said that so many fighter planes have crashed till date, even as “India has been buying fighter aircrafts since 2002.” “The condition of helicopters is such that (it feels as if) you are sitting in a truck. Modi travels in such helicopters,” he added.
Gadkari also claimed that the cost negotiated by the NDA for Rafale jets was 40 per cent cheaper than what the UPA had agreed upon. At a media interaction here on Tuesday, Union minister Prakash Javadekar had claimed that the cost of the jets was 20 per cent lower compared to the price negotiated by the UPA dispensation.
Earlier today, Congress leader Jaipal Reddy said that the Rafale deal is an exceptional case of post-facto ratification. The former Union minister for science and technology said despite the agreement being signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then French President Francois Hollande in 2015, it received formal consent only a year later when the defence ministers of the two countries met in September 2016. Reddy said that “the Rafale scandal has begun to stink and PM Modi has begun to sink”.
-With PTI inputs