JPC on Rafale not needed, “it is not 2G or Bofors”: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Chennai: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Wednesday rejected the demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee to look into the Rafale deal, saying it was unlike the 2G Spectrum or Bofors issues where aspects like the money trail surfaced. “It is not needed,” she told reporters here in reply to a question on the matter.

Unlike the 2G issue, no institution like the Comptroller and Auditor General said anything against the Rafale deal, she said. The matter even reached the Supreme Court which expressed its satisfaction, be it process involved or the price, she told reporters here.

Later, the issue was debated in Parliament as well when members of Opposition did not even bother to listen when the government answered them point by point, she said.

JPC for issues like the 2G Spectrum or Bofors were set up in the past following aspects like money trail and related bank account in Switzerland published extensively by the media, she said. “However, it was not the case with Rafale where there are no middle men like Quattarocchi or the money trail,” she said.

“You know the extent of media coverage (on Bofors) during that period (1988-89). Why it halted abruptly? who tried to muzzle?” she asked. She alleged the Congress party asked media outlets to not publish anything on Bofors during the late 1980s.

Taking potshots at sections of media, she said following the Congress’ diktat, “no one opened their mouth,” and “such people” were now indulging in “false propaganda” against the government on Rafale deal. No one had then made a hue and cry over freedom of expression vis-a-vis Bofors and that the Congress party was “gagging them.” However, they were now crying hoarse that freedom of expression was “infringed” under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule, she said.

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