Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today hit back at Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over the multi-crore Rafale deal, claiming it was “shameful” that her boss was “silencing” her. He also asked her whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken permission from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) before announcing the purchase of the Rafale fighter aircraft in Paris. Gandhi’s retort comes a day after Sitharaman alleged that it was shameful on part of the Congress to raise objections on the deal. The Congress had raised several questions on the deal, accusing the government of compromising national interest and security while promoting “crony capitalism” and causing a loss to the public exchequer. “Dear RM, what’s shameful is your boss silencing you. Please tell us: 1. Final price of each Rafale jet? 2. Did PM take CCS permission before announcing purchase in Paris? 3. Why PM bypassed experienced HAL and gave the deal to AA rated businessman with no defence experience?” Gandhi tweeted.
The Congress and the BJP have exchanged barbs over the multi-crore Rafale fighter aircraft deal. While the Congress was alleging that a scam was brewing in the deal, the BJP claimed that the renegotiated deal was transparent and better than the deal negotiated by the previous UPA government. India had inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September last year for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore, nearly one- and-half years after the prime minister announced the proposal during a visit to Paris. The delivery of the jets is scheduled to begin from September, 2019.