New Delhi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday upped the attack on Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while accusing her of ‘lying’ on HAL’s capability to build Rafale aircraft. He also demanded her resignation.Also Read - Punjab Congress Infighting: Captain Writes to Sonia, Expresses Displeasure Over Sidhu's Elevation | Key Points
Taking to Twitter, the Congress chief alleged that her position as the defence minister has become untenable as a former chief of the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has “nailed her lie”. Also Read - IBPS RRB Recruitment 2021: Exams to be Held in 13 Local Languages Including Hindi, English | Details Here
“The RM (Rafale Minister) tasked with defending corruption has been caught lying again. The former HAL Chief, T S Raju, has nailed her lie, that HAL didn’t have the capability to build the RAFALE. Her position is untenable & she must resign,” he tweeted while tagging a media report. Also Read - Piyush Goyal to be Leader of House in Rajya Sabha, Rahul Gandhi May Lead Congress in LS: Report
Earlier on Wednesday, a Congress delegation, consisting of Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Jairam Ramesh, Randeep Surjewala and Mukul Wasnik, met the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) over alleged irregularities in the Rafale fighter jet deal. After the meeting, the delegation said the federal auditor was “already examining” the entire issue and assured its leaders of submitting a report to Parliament soon.
The Congress, in the memorandum, had alleged that the government caused loss of over Rs 41,000 crore to the exchequer and endangered national security by bypassing the state-run HAL in favour of some businessman ‘friends’ for offset contract in the Rafale deal.
Furthermore, the party alleged violation of the mandatory provisions of the Defence Procurement Procedure in the “unilateral” purchase of 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation and that public exchequer lost Rs 41,000 crore due to the purchase. The party said while the previous UPA government was buying Rafale jets for Rs 526 crore a piece, the rate fixed by the Modi dispensation was Rs 1,670 crore.
Sitharaman had earlier told PTI that it was former defence minister AK Antony’s unprecedented intervention that led to the deal being cancelled after the price negotiation committee had almost finalised the deal.
The charge has been denied by Antony as false.
Sitharaman had also accused Antony of not supporting HAL in getting the Rafale deal.
The Congress has stepped up the attack on the government over the Rafale deal and is seeking to make it a major poll issue ahead of assembly elections in some key states later this year and the parliamentary election in 2019.
(Inputs from PTI)