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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Slams Congress, Defends The Rafale Deal

*RM Nirmala Sitharaman defends Rafale deal *Slams congress of 10 years of indecisiveness *Accuses UPA of defence unpreparedness *Modi Government plugged the gap by signing Government to Government deal *Negotiated deal to make Rafale price cheaper with add-ons *Government doesn’t decides the businessmen representing business delegation

Shailesh Kumar, National Defence,
New Delhi, 17 November 2017

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman slammed the congress for labelling “irresponsible” allegation of irregularities in Rafale Fighter Aircraft acquisition. In a counter allegation she said it was  indecisiveness approach adopted by Congress regime for 10 years leaving the gap in war preparedness of Indian Air Force (IAF). She said even during UPA regime in 2012 ‘Rafale’ became L-1 (lowest bidder). Denying allegations of sudden cost escalation Nirmala Sitharaman clarified that during the current Government prices were negotiated considering add-ons (additional weapon systems etc) to make the machine effective. The aircraft was bought cheaper than the price contemplated during UPA regime.

“The decision to buy 36 Rafales was taken to address the urgent need of the Air Force because the UPA government did not pay any attention to defence preparedness of the armed forces…it (the UPA) was indecisive for 10 years to address this critical necessity of fighters for the IAF”, RM Nirmla Sitharaman said.

Ïn 2014, we came to power. Prime Minister was apprised of the situation. PM did consult the defence minister (Parrikar). In 2015, PM spoke to the France Government. After coming back, followed the due process of CCS (Cabinet Committee On Security). In September 2016, almost a year and a half later in the presence of Defence Minister of France & India, agreement was signed by DGA and Deputy Chief of Air Staff in Delhi”, RM Sitharaman clarified.

She also defended the allegations of not negotiating the transfer of technology with France, RM Sitharaman said, “it is simple economics. When you talk of 126 aircraft, it makes sense…  “when you go for 36 it makes no sense for ToT in an urgent procurement with Add-ons.”

She also made it clear that the Government plays no role in deciding the people represented in the Business delegations accompanying the Prime Minister. Congress alleged that Reliance chairman Anil Ambani accompanied the PM Modi to France. Rahul Gandhi took jibe at the PM Modi in tweets,  “Can you explain “Reliance” on someone with nil experience in aerospace for Rafale deal?”

Narinder Nandan, Jalandhar/ National Defence
Yesterday at a press conference, after the presentation of President’s Standards to 223 Squadron and 117 Helicopter Unit, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa also defended the Rafale deal. It was Congress Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala who on 14 Novermber labelled allegations and demanded an enquiry to prove any potential graft in the deal. He also asked why after over three years of Modi Government, not a single fighter aircraft arrived in India. The spree of allegations followed by Rahul Gandhi taking the pitch asking media person to ask Prime Minister Modi about Rafale deal.

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