Rafale issue: Sitaraman lays bare Cong misinformation campaign
04 January 2019
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman today refuted all allegations of corruption levelled by Congress party president Rahul Gandhi against the NDA government’s decision to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from French company Dassault. She also accused the Congress of ignoring the interests of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd in the VVIP chopper contract by preferring AugustaWestland instead.
When Congress had the chance, they preferred AgustaWestland, not HAL, to build helicopters. This was because HAL would have given them helicopters and nothing else, the defence minister pointed out.
Accusing Congress of not addressing Indian Air Force's needs when the party was in power, the defence minister said that China and Pakistan had bolstered their air forces when UPA was in power in India.
Addressing the Lok Sabha the defence minister accused the Congress party of shedding crocodile’s tears for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, after granting the VVIP chopper contract to Anglo-Italian company AgustaWestland. She also made it clear that while the previous UPA government was slated to buy just 18 Rafale jets in fly-away condition, the NDA government modified the contract to buy 36 jets in fly-away condition.
Sitaraman also raked up the controversial National Advisory Council, which functioned under UPA government, to counter Congress' attack on UPA amidst unruly behaviour by Congress members who continued to disrupt her speech.
On the correction sought on the SC verdict, Sitaraman said, “We filed for correction in the government filing before the Supreme Court on our own, not because of the press conference of the Congress party.”
“We did not mislead the Supreme Court, Rahul Gandhi is misleading the nation”, said Sitharaman.
The defence minister quoted Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's statement on 20 July that he had asked the French President about the secrecy pact but he denied its existence. Rahul Gandhi also quoted the French President as saying that he had no issues in making the cost public.
"Who is truthful? One of them is misleading the country. I want proof of this," Nirmala Sitharaman asked, adding that the Congress is scared after Christian Michel's extradition to India, and hence it is raking up the Rafale issue again and again.
The defence minister said the environment around the country is very volatile. India would want peace in our neighbourhood but it cannot be at the cost of operational readiness of our armed forces. Timely getting of equipment should be a priority for any government, she said.