Cong's claims shameful, disservice to armed forces: Sitharaman on Rafale deal

Cong's claims shameful, disservice to armed forces: Sitharaman on Rafale deal

The issue of purchase of more Rafale fighter jets was raised when the Indian and French Defence Ministers met here last month, but India has not given any answer yet, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday.

The defence minister said that the deal was finalised after five rounds of lengthy discussions between Indian and French sides and approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security.

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.

"I am amazed over the patently baseless allegations being levelled by the Congress party on the whole Rafale deal", Prasad told reporters.

"Dear RM, what's shameful is your boss silencing you".

The Congress alleged that during his visit to France in April 2015, Prime Minister Modi cancelled the earlier Rafale deal signed by the UPA - that made public sector undertaking, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) a partner of the French manufacturer Dassault Aviation - to buy 36 aircraft in flyaway condition at a much higher rate. "All procedures were scrupulously followed. We had to move forward fast", she said, stressing that "not a single procedure was violated in procuring the jets".

The decision to strengthen the Air Force was taken by the Vajpayee government in 2000 but the Congress-led coalition, which came in 2004 could not seal the pact over the next decade. "This potentially compromised national security interests", she said.

Responding to charges levied by the Opposition party, she also said that a "Transfer of Technology" was not sought in this deal as it was not viable and it could have escalated the price. "Why PM bypassed experienced HAL & gave the deal to AA rated businessman with no defence experience?" "No offset contracts have been signed so far".

Referring to the delays, she said the UPA government can be accused of "error of ommission" as the Indian Air Force was in critical need of the fighter jets.

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