Thursday, 14 December, 2017

Sitharaman slams Congress, says allegations on Rafale deal shameful

Rahul retorts to Sitharaman'Reveal final price of each Rafale jet Defence Minister rubbishes Rahul's allegations on Rafale deal
Kenny Thornton | 18 November, 2017, 16:25

The Defence Minister said the central government will remove the hurdles in domestic defence manufacturing.

After the deal under which 36 Rafale jets are being bought off-the-shelf, there has been talk of purchasing 36 more of the fighters, which might cost lesser under a "follow-on" deal.

Reacting to the Defence Minister's press conference, the Congress party held a counter press conference, posing seven questions. She said that the allegations were "shameful" and that such bickering was a "disservice" to the armed forces.

The minister also rubbished allegations of procedural violations, stating the Rafale deal was signed with "the Cabinet Committee on Security in the loop" and her predecessor Manohar Parrikar's active participation.

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The Congress has alleged that the government neglected the interests of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) - as Dassault Aviation, the French manufacturer of Rafale aircraft, refused to transfer technology to it - and instead entered into an agreement with Reliance Defence.

She said no decision was taken in the matter between 2004 and 2013, during the UPA dispensation after several rounds of discussion. But the per unit cost zooms to nearly Rs 1,640 crore if the overall deal is taken into account, which includes a deadly weapons package, all spares and costs for 75% fleet availability and performance-based logistics support for five years, among other things, as reported by TOI earlier. There was an urgent need for the acquisition of the planes for the IAF's defence preparedness. It was not financially prudent to negotiate ToT for just 36 fighters, she said.

Rijiju's remarks came following the Congress accusation against the government that it negotiated an overpriced deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France for Rs 58,000 crore, causing "insurmountable loss" of taxpayers' money.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken to the French government about the jets during his April 2015 visit to Paris.

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