The Congress has asked the Narendra Modi government why it inked a deal with France’s Dassault Aviation to buy just 36 aircraft when 126 fighter jets were required. The party’s national spokesperson, Priyanka Chaturvedi, asked if there’s any urgency, why the government did not ask the French company to supply all the aircraft in one go.
“The first lot of the aircraft will be supplied in 2019 and the rest in 2022. If there is any urgency, the whole lot should have been supplied by 2019,” she said here Saturday.
Chaturvedi asked why the government is “afraid of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the deal, if it’s fair”. “A total of 126 aircraft were required, but the NDA government signed a pact for only 36 aircraft. This is strange,” she said.
She alleged that the government “sacrificed the country’s interests to favour a millionaire friend”.
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“How the cost per plane soared from Rs 526 crore to Rs 1,670 crore? The prime minister should explain why the government ignored a public sector undertaking with a 70-year-long clean record and gave the contract to a 12-day-old company which lacks experience,” she said.
The Congress leader said though the deal could not materialise during the UPA government’s tenure, but it ensured transparency in all matters related to it.
Union minister Arun Jaitley had earlier said the fully weaponised fighter jets which his government is buying are 20 per cent cheaper than the ones offered under the previous UPA regime.
In 2015, then defence minister Manohar Parrikar had said that the government had decided to buy only 36 Rafale fighter jets scrapping the earlier plan to acquire 126 of the French aircraft on grounds of huge cost.