New Delhi: Former finance minister P Chidambaram on Sunday targetted Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over the Rafale deal and listed out three reasons that should prompt a probe in the aircraft deal. Taking to Twitter, Chidambaram asked the Defence Minister if the negotiation by the NDA government was cheaper, then “why didn’t the government buy all the 126 aircraft but just 36 of them”. Also Read - COVID-19: 'Next 2 Weeks Crucial,' Says P Chidambaram; Praises PM For Speaking to Opposition Leaders
Responding to Nirmala Sitharaman’s “why should I order an inquiry into the Rafale purchase?”, Chidambaram, in a series of tweets, said the probe should be ordered to find out why did the NDA government scrap the earlier agreement on 126 aircraft that had been approved by every authority including the Indian Air Force. Also Read - Corona Funds For Delhi Rs 0: AAP Complains Against Centre's Bias
Raising question on why the government scrapped the deal with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in the Rafale deal. “Why did the government not suggest the name of HAL as the Offset Partner or at least as one of the Offset Partners? If the price negotiated by the NDA government was indeed cheaper by 9 per cent, why did the government decide to buy only 36 aircraft and not all the 126 agreed earlier?” Chidambaram asked. Also Read - Coronavirus: Total Positive Cases Climb to 1024, Death Toll Reaches 27, State Borders Sealed | Top Points
The former Union Minister’s questions have come a day after the defence minister also took a swipe at Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s August 30 tweet, saying he seemed to be predicting Hollande’s actions well in advance. “…it is done well in advance. It is very interesting,” she had said.
On August 30, Gandhi had tweeted: “Globalised corruption. This #Rafale aircraft really does fly far and fast! It’s also going to drop some big bunker buster bombs in the next couple of weeks. Modi ji please tell Anil, there is a big problem in France.”
Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said former French president Francois Hollande’s claims on the Rafale deal have come at a time when he himself was facing allegations that his associate had received some funds for some purpose. “It (allegation) may be true or may not be true. But in such a situation, the former president saying this,” she said.
Francois Hollande, on September 21, claimed that it was the Indian government which had suggested the name of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the offset partner for Dassault Aviation in the Rafale deal and France did not have a choice.