New Delhi : The Congress on Tuesday pounced at Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s refusal in the Rajya Sabha to disclose the details of the Rafale fighter aircraft deal with France. It further alleged that the deal is a “huge scam” and accused the Modi government of compromising national interests and national security.
Party president Rahul Gandhi tweeted it as “The Great Rafale Mystery” in the typical government style of keeping the secrets off-record. Here is his tweet:
(Not for Distribution)
RM says the price negotiated for each RAFALE jet by the PM and his “reliable” buddy is a state secret.
1Informing Parliament about the price is a national security threat
2Brand all who ask, Anti National.’
Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the same Sitharaman had publicly directed the defence secretary at a press conference in the Defence Ministry on November 17 to share the purchase price of 36 Rafale aircraft, but nothing happened thereafter.
Instead, she took refuge in a 2008 agreement with France in reply to a question by Samajwadi Party’s Naresh Agrawal on Monday for not disclosing the agreement in public domain.
She said: “As per ‘Article-10’ of the Inter-Governmental Agreement between Governments of India and France on the purchase of Rafale aircraft, the classified information and the material exchanged is governed by the provisions of the Security Agreement signed between the Government of France and Government of India in 2008.”
Azad and Congress chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala asserted at a Press conference here that there are many question marks on complete non-transparency in disclosure of the purchase price of aircraft, flagrant violation of the mandatory “defence procurement procedure” and prior clearance of the cabinet committee on security, sacrificing the national interests on the transfer of technology.
They also accused the Prime Minister of “blatant promotion of financial interests of his “crony capitalist friends,” though the defence minister denied any private sector industry was included in the deal.
Azad said the minister had misled Parliament by claiming to have no knowledge of the “offset contract” having been awarded by Rafale-Dassault Aviation to “Reliance Defence” despite the fact that she had met the French defence minister on October 27 last year in India before the latter proceeding to inaugurate the company’s Dassault Reliance Aerospace manufacturing facility at Mihan in Nagpur, along with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. “Why is the government weaving this web of deception by playing ignorance,” the two leaders asked.