Rahul targets Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman on Rafale deal

Rahul Gandhi
Explain Rafale cost Rahul Gandhi tells Nirmala Sitharaman

20 November, 2017

The Congress had alleged the government caused "insurmountable loss" of taxpayers' money by signing the deal worth Rs 58,000 crores and claimed that the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence Limited that demanded the Congress had been unfairly picked to be the French firm's Indian partner.

Sitharaman said she has asked CII officials to hold discussions with the state government and chart out a plan.

He asked her whether PM Modi had taken permission from the Cabinet Committee on Security before announcing the purchase of the Rafale fighter aircraft in Paris.

"I am not shying away from giving figures", she said, asking the Defence Secretary to share the numbers. Is it correct that the per aircraft pricing of Rafale as per UPA negotiation comes to Rs. 526.1 crore as against Modi government's per aircraft negotiated asked Rs. 1,570.8 crore as per current exchange rate?

TALKING TO media here, Ms Sitharaman said, "The decision to buy 36 Rafale aircrafts was taken following the due procedure".

However, when asked repeatedly about comparative cost of each aircraft negotiated by the then UPA government and the rate at which the deal was sealed past year, Sitharaman said she was not running away from sharing the details and asked the officials to give the figures to the media. The delivery of the jets is scheduled to begin from September, 2019.

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Sitharaman said that 36 Rafale fighters were bought as the government wanted to procure fighter jets at the earliest, and added that more fighter jets will have to be bought to meet the Indian Air Force's requirements.

Prime Minister Modi spoke to the French government during his April 2015 visit.

Sitharaman said in 2012, Rafale was identified as the lowest bidder.

Sitharaman told reporters here that the NDA Government went for the purchase as an "emergency" procurement. Accusing the Congress of "muddling up" the Rafale fighter planes issue, she said that party raised questions over the deal, hoping to look for non-existent corruption.

Separately, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the charges levelled by the Congress over the Rafale deal were "baseless". But the per unit cost zooms to nearly Rs 1,640 crore if the overall deal is taken into account, which includes a deadly weapons package, all spares and costs for 75% fleet availability and performance-based logistics support for five years, among other things, as reported by TOI earlier.

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