Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has dismissed Congress' allegations on the procurement deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets as shameful, saying the process was completely transparent and the final agreement on the 36 jets was signed after approval of Cabinet Committee on Security.
Rahul Gandhi, who is likely to be elevated to Congress party's President Post on Monday, said "shameful" was her boss "silencing" her. She alleged that the indecision of the previous UPA governments to procure the combat jets "potentially compromised" national security interests. Asked if it meant the price under the current government-to-government deal is lesser, she said "absolutely". The minister was highly critical of the UPA government for not finalising the Rafale deal during its decade-long rule. She said the industry can also get help from experts in the field for a better understanding of the segment, and added that capacity building for the next 50 years has to be taken into consideration. Gandhi tweeted, "Why PM bypassed experienced HAL & gave the deal to AA rated businessman with no defence experience?" "The price we arrived at is lesser", she said.
Launching a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gandhi alleged PM Modi bypassed several norms before announcing the deal with France. "The government has negotiated a very good deal".
India is buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France under a government-to-government agreement, and there have been talks of purchasing more of the fighter jets as a follow-on order.
"That was the grim situation when this government came to power in 2014 and, therefore, we had to move forward so that the air force is not left with unattended requirements for the sake of preparedness", she said.
The deliveries of the aircraft will start from 2019 end, and will be ended in 2022.
Chennai: Those aspiring to make equipment for the defence forces must be futuristic, said Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa had said in the annual press conference of IAF that full squadron strength will be reached by 2032.