Rafale deal: Govt says Congress charge shameful

Nirmala Sitharaman

The Congress is also faulting Modi for damaging the interests of the public sector HAL that would have acquired the technology under the deal negotiated by the UPA government to have indigenous capability to produce more such aircraft indigenously.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) said that there was "no overpricing" in the Rafale purchase as the government had "negotiated a very good" deal for the French fighter aircraft. She also claimed that no private party is involved in the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircrafts.

She said the inter-governmental agreement with France for "emergency" procurement was struck duly following a transparent procedure and after clearance by the Cabinet Committee on Security. Sitharaman alleged that inaction by the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government resulted in a delay in the deal.

"Through the entire decade 2004-2014, the UPA government was unable to come to a decision to strengthen our defence preparedness".

The deliveries of the aircraft will start from 2019 end, and will be ended in 2022.

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"The bickerings about the deal are a disservice to the armed forces", she said.

Sitharaman said the defence procurement procedure allows a contract with a friendly government, and rubbished allegations that government was favouring any businessman through the deal.

The Congress had alleged the government caused "insurmountable loss" of taxpayers' money by signing the deal worth Rs 58,000 crores and claimed that the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence Limited that demanded the Congress had been unfairly picked to be the French firm's Indian partner. "It is lower than what was there in the MRMCA contract", he said without going into specifics.

"I am amazed over the patently baseless allegations being levelled by the Congress party on the whole Rafale deal", Prasad told reporters. She was flanked by the Defence Secretary and the Deputy Chief of the Indian Air Force on the podium, but only she answered the questions.

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