Allegations against Rafale deal 'shameful', 'disservice' to armed forces: Nirmala Sitharaman

Sergio Conner
November 18, 2017

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday attacked the Congress for leveling "shameful and unfounded" allegations against the Rs 59,000 crore (7.87 billion Euro) contract for 36 French Rafale fighters, while stressing that the previous UPA regime had shown abject indecisiveness by failing to conclude the deal despite realising it was a critical operational necessity for the IAF.

Prime Minister Modi spoke to the French government during his April 2015 visit.

Senior BJP leader Piyush Goyal today said that the Congress's allegations over the Rafale deal, reflected the opposition party's "state of desperation" as it was on a losing spree. "Whether the minister wants to say that the Modi government will not purchase aircraft from Rafale (in future) after the buying these 36 aircraft?" he asked.

"The allegations are politically motivated since they are not able to find any corruption in this government", she added.

The RDL further said that over 500 large, medium and small Indian companies will benefit from the offsets which are nothing but an export obligation for goods and services from India and that offsets referred to are spread over a period of almost 10 years.

"Comparison in the price is wrong. To bicker over price as though they served preparedness... it is shameful".

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.

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She pointed out since the 36-jet deal was an "emergency procurement", it made no economic sense for a technology transfer. "The government has nothing to do with it", Goyal said. Why the defence minister and Modi government find "Make in India" as non-sensical?

According to the information available in the public domain, mostly culled out of government's own declarations, it is clear that the new jets would be purchased at a vastly higher price than what was negotiated by the UPA government.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accused the Defence Minister of engaging in political mud slinging.

The Congress has accused that the government negotiated an overpriced deal to buy 36 Rafale jets from France for Rs 58,000 crore, causing "insurmountable loss" of taxpayers' money.

He asked whether it is correct that per aircraft price of Rafale as per the UPA government's negotiations was Dollars 80.95 million or Rs 526 crore as against the purchase price by Modi government of Rs 1,570.80 crore per aircraft.

Rahul also took pot shots at PM Modi over the Rafale deal on Twitter saying, "Can you explain "Reliance" on someone with nil experience in aerospace for Rafale deal?" We have negotiated a better deal than we did with Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).

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