'Claims against Rafale deal were fiction': Arun Jaitley slams Congress after SC ruling, says party's 'falsehood' hurt national security

After a Supreme Court verdict found no issues in the process followed to procure the Rafale aircraft deal, finance minister Arun Jaitley said that the party under Rahul Gandhi has misled the nation over the aircraft deal, and compromised national security

FP Staff December 14, 2018 18:11:54 IST
'Claims against Rafale deal were fiction': Arun Jaitley slams Congress after SC ruling, says party's 'falsehood' hurt national security

After a Supreme Court verdict found no issues in the procurement process of the Rafale fighter jets, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley slammed the Congress, saying the party compromised national security with its campaign of "falsehood" over the deal.

Addressing the media following the Supreme Court verdict, Jaitley said, "Falsehood has a short life and is bound to fall apart, in this case (Rafale deal), it lasted a few months". "The disruptors have lost, and they have lost on all counts," he added.

Claims against Rafale deal were fiction Arun Jaitley slams Congress after SC ruling says partys falsehood hurt national security

File image of Union minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters

Jaitley also said that the SC verdict has diminished Rahul's credibility, and demanded a discussion in the Parliament on the apex court ruling.

"In the whole world, it's a tradition that if a political leader is caught lying they either resign or they are impeached if holding an office. The Congress was demanding that a discussion is held on the Rafale deal. We want that (too). We will demand that tomorrow as well. We want them to put forth the falsehood in the Parliament."

When asked about the Congress refusing to accept the verdict, and demanding a joint parliamentary probe, Jaitley said that a partisan body like the JPC would never be able to probe without political biases.

"The SC verdict is conclusive. There's no doubt or space for discussion to decide the justifiability of the process by a partisan body. If they refuse to accept even the SC verdict because the falsehood was created by a certain family. Certainly, in our democracy, the family is not above the SC," he said.

Accusing the Congress of acting against national interest, first by delaying the purchase of the fighter jets, and later putting the deal under cloud with "false" allegations, the finance minister said that the Congress needs to answer why the UPA stopped the process to procure the jets despite knowing that the need for the aircraft was "acute and necessary".

"The Indian Air Force needed it. And therefore, somebody has to answer a question, that after shortlisting this purchase, both in terms of quality and cost, why was it virtually stopped, if not abandoned. Why was national security compromised? Why were the needs of the air force compromised?" Jaitley asked.

Prior to Jaitley's address, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman read out a point-by-point rebuttal of the Congress' allegations reading sections of the Supreme verdict on the deal. Sitharaman said the Supreme Court dismissed all the objections that were raised by petitioners in the court including the decision-making process, the pricing and the choice of the Indian offset partner.

On pricing, changing details of the deal

Terming the Congress campaign against the Rafale deal "a fiction-writing competition", Jaitley said that their allegations in the deal "compromised national security".

"The entire imagery, the thought process, and the fiction writing that one man decided it, that the due process was not followed has been proven wrong by the SC judgment," Jaitley said, adding that unlike what the Congress has been claiming, there were 74 meetings of the various government bodies before the deal was finalised. "All due processes were met with," he added.

Sitharaman claimed the NDA deal is better than the UPA one. "While the matrix for UPA govt was to bring 18 fly away jets and manufacture the rest in India, the NDA govt's deal (of bringing 36 jets in a flyaway condition) will make two squadrons ready (18 jets for each squadron)," she said, adding that the number of aircraft (36), which will be delivered in the fly away condition to India, was decided in consultation with the Indian Air Force.

Jaitley also clarified that the cost of the simple aircraft is nine percent cheaper than what was agreed on by the UPA, whereas the weaponised version of the jet is 20 percent cheaper because of the escalation clauses are worded differently.

On offset partners

Jaitley once again clarified that the Government of India had no involvement in selecting the Indian offset partners. "It was the original manufacturer, Dassault, which decided on the offset partner. The Rafale deal has protected both the security and commercial interest of India. Security because it increases the defence capability of our forces. And commercial because, the final price was significantly lower both for the aircraft and the weaponised aircraft than what was negotiated in 2012."

Adding further on the pricing difference between what was agreed on by the UPA government, and later changed by the NDA government, Jaitley said, "The cost of the basic airport can be made public, but the weaponry can't be made public in the national interest. The court was given those details in a sealed envelope. Whatever was said (by the Congress) was untrue."

He also questioned that Congress leadership saying that the party's campaign on the Rafale deal has compromised national security. "If honest deals made in the interest of the security and commercial interest of the country are brought under the cloud, honest officers will think 10 times before going ahead with such deals. And those who have hurt India's interests must realise this," he added.

 

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