Published: Sat, November 18, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

BJP, Cong continue war of words over Rafale deal

BJP, Cong continue war of words over Rafale deal

Although government sources have previously argued that the two prices can not be compared because of different add-ons, weapon suites, training, maintenance and infrastructure requirements in the two agreements, Sitharaman said that "we have obtained a far better deal per aircraft (than the UPA)".

"Allegations relating to the Rafale deal (by the Congress) are shameful, the deal was finalised following a transparent procedure", Sitharaman said at a press meet in the Defence Ministry.

Presenting the detailed timeline of the case she pinned the blame of the delay in the deal on the then UPA government.

The defence minister 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. This according to the Raksha Mantri severely affected the crucial preparedness of the Air Force.

TALKING TO media here, Ms Sitharaman said, "The decision to buy 36 Rafale aircrafts was taken following the due procedure".

As per the 36-fighter deal inked by the NDA government, which does not include any ToT, each jet comes for around Rs 710 crore. The minister was highly critical of the UPA government for not finalising the Rafale deal during its decade-long rule. "You should lift yourselves on what you want to do not today but for the next 50 years", she said. She alleged that the indecision of the previous UPA governments to procure the combat jets "potentially compromised" national security interests. It was not financially prudent to negotiate ToT for just 36 fighters, she said.

On Thursday, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had alleged that Prime Minister Modi had "changed the entire deal to benefit one businessman".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken to the French government about the jets during his April 2015 visit to Paris. "And, it does not require permission from the government if two private firms come together, which is a matter of their own commercial prudence", she said.

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