New Delhi: Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday launched a fresh attack on Congress and accused the party of doing a “disservice” to the nation by spreading wrong information among the public about the Rafale fighter jet deal. She said while addressing a seminar on ‘India’s Strategic Interest in the Context of the Rafale Deal’.
“You (opposition) are misinforming the public and doing a disservice to the country if you are becoming pawns in the corporate rivalry. Is India’s interest at the top of your agenda or are you becoming a partner to some kind of corporate rivalry,” she asked as quoted by PTI.
Taking swipe at the grand old party, the defence minister said, “If their intention is to sabotage even this procurement (Rafale), to stop the purchase even now, that’s the icing on the cake as regards disservice to the nation. The icing on the cake is a wrong expression but just the cruel last hit towards serving this nation.”
On January 18, senior Congress leader, P Chidambaram, had accused the government of compromising national security and asked why it bought only 36 Rafale fighter jets instead of 126 required by the Air Force. His comments come in the wake of fresh revelations on the Rafale deal in a media report which claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to but 36 aircraft instead of the 126 asked for by the Air Force pushed the price of each jet up by 41.42 per cent.
“Between 2014 & today, in the purchases (in defence), including the ones done by Manohar Parrikar & Arun Jaitley, we deliberately not had any middleman coming into the corridors of South Block,” she further added.
On Friday, Union Minister Smriti Irani had also attacked Congress and said that the party is running a “malicious campaign” against the government and has “abandoned” national interest for its false propaganda.
Meanwhile, on January 16 some reports claimed that France had ordered 28 of the jets at half the price of what India had paid. However, later the French government refuted the reports saying that the 2 billion euro figure mentioned in a news report for the purchase of the 28 fighters was meant for development of the new F4 variant of the jet.
The Congress has been alleging that the deal was overpriced, violated procedures, and was intended to benefit the Anil Ambani-promoted Reliance Defence as the “offsets partner”. The NDA Government says it got a better deal as far as price, equipment or delivery was concerned.