New Delhi: In a fresh attack on the BJP government over Rafale deal, Congress on Thursday accused Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of lying about the number of jets. The grand-old party also demanded her and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to submit a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe.Also Read - Mumbai Local Trains Latest Update: Maharashtra BJP to Hold Protest Demanding Resumption of Suburban Services For Vaccinated Passengers
Briefing the media, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, said, “Defence Minister is caught lying again on the number of fighter aircraft required by Indian Air Force (IAF). Her claim that IAF does not have the infrastructure like parking place, maintenance facility to fly 126 Fighter aircraft is preposterous and goes against the grain of national security requirements.” Also Read - PM Narendra Modi Hails Wrestler Ravi Dahiya For Winning Silver Medal at Tokyo Olympics 2020
He said Modi’s decision to “arbitrarily” reduce the requirement of 126 fighter aircraft to 36 was “unexplainable”. (ALSO READ: Cong Accuses Parrikar of Being Silent on Rafale Deal) Also Read - ED Raids Former Karnataka Minister Roshan Baig, Congress MLA Zameer Over IMA Ponzi Scam
His comment were in reference to Sitharaman’s interview to a national daily wherein she has said that the “government chose to procure only 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France in 2015, instead of the 126 being negotiated by the previous government, as infrastructure and other technical requirements of the IAF do not allow greater induction”.
Dismissing Sitharaman’s argument the Congress leader asked, “Can the government and IAF not create parking space/maintenance facility in 6-8 years period during which the aircraft will be delivered? Can the creation of parking space/maintenance facility be a ground for compromising air superiority and national security?” (ALSO READ: ‘Time Running Out,’ Rahul Reminds Govt as he Awaits Response to Request For JPC on Rafale Deal)
Last month, Congress President Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to remind the Centre of his request to put a Joint Parliamentary Committee in place over the controversial Rafale deal. He had tweeted on the micro-blogging site: “Dear Mr. Jaitley, Less than 6 hrs left for your deadline on the #Rafale JPC to run out. Young India is waiting. I hope you’re busy convincing Modi Ji and Anil Ambani Ji about why they should listen to you & approve this!”
For the unversed, Rahul Gandhi had raised the Rafale deal issue during the no-confidence debate in Lok Sabha. Gandhi had said that French President Emmanuel Macron had told him in the presence of other senior leaders that there was no clause that prevented the government from revealing the price of the jets, following which the French government released the statement citing the “secrecy clause”.
Gandhi had also alleged that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had misled the house over the secrecy clause in Rafale deal under pressure from PM Modi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had signed the Rafale deal in September 2016.
(With agency inputs)