Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over the Rafale fighter aircraft agreement and asked them to answer questions regarding the deal. “Arun Jaitley gave a long press conference and talked extensively about the Rafale Deal. There are only few questions that I want to ask him – First what was the price of the aircraft? Was your price more or lesser than the price of the UPA?” Rahul asked while speaking to the media here.
Posing his second question, the Congress Vice-President asked that the Hindustan Aeronautical Limited, a company that from the past 60-70 years is making aircraft, was sideline on what basis and why was a contract given to an Industrialist with no experience in making aircraft? He continued, “Third question that I want to ask is did Narendra Modiji or Arun Jaitley seek permission from the Cabinet Committee, where the Finance Minister sits as well?”
Rahul further asked whether or not Prime Minister Modi completed this work without any procedure.
“The Defense Minister at that time had said that he didn’t know about this new deal, but the Prime Minister knew,” Rahul Gandhi pointed out, before saying that those were simple questions that don’t involve any government experience. “The Defense Minister could not give replies to these questions. We are asking these questions to the Prime Minister because he took an arbitrated decision without following the procedure. We are just asking him whether this is true or not. This is a national security issue, issue of the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives, this is a serious matter,” said the Congress Vice-President.
He further claimed that the Parliament didn’t reopen during the month of November because “Rafale and Jay Shah ate too much.” Rahul on Saturday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi single-handedly finalised the Rafale fighter jets deal without following the due procedure. “When Modi ji went to France, he changed Rafale contract, without consulting anyone. Instead of giving contract to company which knows how to build an aircraft, he gave it to his industrialist friend who knows nothing about it. Defence Minister was in Goa then,” Gandhi had said.
During Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France in 2015, India and France announced a government-to-government deal wherein the air force would receive 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition as soon as possible. According to the contract, the components of the jets would be manufactured by Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence.
However, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, earlier, said the acquisition process of Rafale fighter jets got delayed because of the inaction by United Progressive Alliance (UPA), while it was in power for ten years until 2014. The defence minister said when Modi-led government came to power in 2014, the situation was ‘grim’ and that they “had to move quickly forward so that the air force was not left unattended”. The Congress Party has also accused the government of buying the jets at an exorbitant price, paying three times the price negotiated by UPA-2 in 2012.