Union Minister Arun Jaitley, in his first video interview after resuming charge of the finance ministry, said that statements made by the Congress party and its president Rahul Gandhi on the Rafale fighter aircraft deal are “factually false” and it showed how little understanding they had.
Speaking to news agency ANI, Jaitley said: “Every fact that they (Congress) have said on pricing is factually false. Mr Rahul Gandhi himself has given 7 different prices in different speeches with regard to the 2007 Rafale offer…This (allegations on Rafale deal) is like a kindergarten or primary school debate, ‘Well, I was paying 500 something and you’ve paid 1600 something’. That’s the argument being given, it shows how little understanding (Rahul Gandhi) he has.”
Jaitley claimed the cost per aircraft is nine per cent cheaper in the deal negotiated by the NDA government. “What was negotiated from 2015 to 2016 and finally executed in 2016, with the escalations and the currency variations, the basic aircraft price turns out to be 9% cheaper. Is the Congress party aware of this?” he said.
When asked about former BJP ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha’s claim that the government will pay Rs 1,000 crore more per plane as compared to an earlier deal, Jaitley called them “career nationalists” who lack “credibility”. “Our tragedy in the NDA has been, particularly in BJP, we’ve had a fair share of career nationalists. They are nationalists with us as long as it suits their career. I don’t attach much credibility to them,” he said.
Mr Jaitley, thanks for bringing the nation’s attention back to the GREAT #RAFALE ROBBERY! How about a Joint Parliamentary Committee to sort it out? Problem is, your Supreme Leader is protecting his friend, so this may be inconvenient. Do check & revert in 24 hrs. We’re waiting!
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 29, 2018
Jaitley, who had briefly held charge of the Defence Ministry, tore into the Congress for allegedly delaying the Rafale deal with France.
“You comprised national security, you have not given any reason why you delayed it by ten years. The combat ability of our forces had to be increased; we live in a troubled zone,” he said.
On allegations of crony capitalism, he said the deal was between the governments of the two countries and there was no private party involved. “Congress must remember that it can’t fool people all the time. This is a government to government arrangement. Offset has nothing to do with this contract. Government will purchase 36 fully-loaded aircrafts from France, no private party involved. Government role ends,” he said.