New Delhi: Criticizing Congress President Rahul Gandhi for raising questions on the Rafale deal, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that their price of the basic Rafale aircraft is Rs. 670 crores which is nine per cent cheaper than what the UPA deal would have cost that is Rs. 737 crores.
“Our price of the basic Rafale aircraft is Rs. 670 crores, which is nine per cent cheaper than what the UPA deal would have cost. That is Rs. 737 crores,” she said.
Allegations linked to the Rafale purchase, mainly that PM Modi went for a new, overpriced deal for 36 aircraft to help Anil Ambani win a Rs. 30,000 crore offset contract, were the core of Congress’ campaign for recent elections in which it snatched three BJP-ruled states. On Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi referred to “AA” when he repeated the allegations. The government reasserted on Friday that it had no role in choosing offset partners.
“For every AA there’s an RV and also a Q,” sneered the defence minister, apparently referring to land scam allegations against Robert Vadra, the brother-in-law of Rahul Gandhi, and also Ottavio Quattrocchi, the alleged Bofors middleman.
Nirmala Sitharaman alleged that the deal negotiated by the Congress fell through because “it didn’t suit” the party. “The deal didn’t get you money. There is something different between a defence deal and dealing in defence. We don’t do defence dealings. We deal in defence with national security as our priority.” She also quoted last month’s Supreme Court giving a clean chit to the government on its Rafale decision-making.
Defending the 36-jet deal, the minister also charged the Congress with shedding “crocodile tears” on HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) not getting the offset contract with Rafale-maker Dassault as the party did nothing for the state-run company.
She also emphasized that unlike the previous deal, which never materialized, the delivery of first Rafale aircraft will happen in September 2019 and the last of the 36 jets will be delivered in 2022.