Rafale deal: Nirmala Sitharaman accuses Congress of looking for scams to attack 'corruption-free' BJP govt
Nirmala Sitharaman accused the Congress of looking for a scam every day to throw mud on the 'corruption-free for throwing 'trantrums' over Rafale deal
Bengaluru: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman accused the Congress of looking for a scam every day to throw mud on the "corruption-free" NDA government as she hit out the opposition party for throwing 'trantrums' over the Rafale deal.
BJP did not throw tantrums during Congress-led UPA government over any defence deals as the Congress was doing at present over the deal for purchase of Rafael fighter jets, she said at "The Huddle", a thought conclave, conducted by The Hindu Publication in Bengaluru.
"The Congress wants to equate their corrupt and scam-hit UPA government with ours. So, it is looking for a scam every day. Here we go there is one, pick it up and throw mud, and it is for us to keep wiping it and saying we are clean. I am sorry it is somewhat not so responsible way in which you want to criticise the government," she said.
Stating that she had 'happily released all the answers on purchase of equipment, weaponry and certain helicopters," she said when some helicopters were deployed in friendly countries during UPA regime, then ministers did not disclose information citing national security concerns.
There was no outrage at that time, in spite of BJP being the opposition. "We didn't throw tantrums. We then thought there would have been some reason, the government, the defense ministry and the PM, probably had a genuine reason not to talk about it," she added.
Sitharaman also said there was no controversy over the Rafale deal as there was no deal under the UPA government. "Let's get this out of our system that they (UPA government) had the deal and it was much better. Where was the deal under the UPA? There was just no deal."
She was responding to Congress President Rahul Gandhi's allegations that the Rafale deal inked by the government to buy 38 fighter planes had no technology transfer, ignoring the deal signed by UPA government to procure 126 Rafale planes.
The defence minister said Rafale had been considered along with Eurofighter Typhoon under the UPA regime and there was enough data in public domain where within three years between 2011 to early 2014, the UPA's quoted prices about Rafale had undergone nearly 300 per cent increase. She said the process was almost completed and the bids were opened and at the stage of buying, the then "Raksha Mantri thought probably there was something wrong and asked for the details."
Sitharaman said the defence minister had no business to enter the process after the bids were opened.
Responding to the allegation that Qatar was buying Rafale jet at cheaper rate than the rate at which India will procure them, she said, "The simple thing is also that every time you go with transfer of technology, the price goes up to that extent."
She also countered allegations that a contract to manufacture parts of the jets was awarded to an inexperienced
private company. "In the UPA non-deal, HAL had very clearly come up with certain number of man-hours which was not even acceptable for Dassault. So, the HAL deal again did not happen, so we had managed to get transfer of technology, you have not. Dassault even did not consider HAL, and we have not considered anybody," she said.
Moreover, the Prime Minister did not mention any particular company's name, public or private, in the
inter-governmental agreement, which was more like an MoU, she added. She said Dassault had not yet told the government with whom they were going. " So, why there is imagination, "Oh you have gone with them and that name was given by Prime Minster.
Sorry again, non-sense," she added. Giving reasons for the government not wanting to reveal the price, Sitaraman said she would love to answer this in the Parliament or anybody to satisfy all, but it will be more satisfying to the enemies of India. "By revealing the prices of all the additional equipments to be fixed in the jets, who are we trying to help?" she asked.
Replying to a question, she said the total strength of the Army as on July 1 is 12.37 lakh personnel against the authorised strength of 12.64 lakh and the total shortage is 27,864.
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