Thursday, May 24, 2018 | Last Update : 12:16 AM IST
The Congress also attacked the government over its silence on the questions raised over the Rafale deal.
New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday hit out at the NDA government over the Rafale fighter deal, with the party demanding that the price paid for each jet be made public. In a written reply during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, however, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman had refused to share details like the per-aircraft cost, saying this would violate a secrecy agreement relating to the deal between India and France.
Speaking to reporters outside Parliament, Mr Gandhi said: “For the first time, the defence minister is saying we will not share details of money spent on buying the aircraft... I spoke during the Gujarat polls that there is a scam (in the Rafale deal). Modiji has personally got the deal done.”
Mr Gandhi added: “Modiji had personally gone to Paris. Personally the deal was changed. The entire India knows it. And the defence minister is saying she will not inform India, Indian martyrs and their relatives about the money spent on buying those aircraft. What does this mean? This only means there is some scam.”
In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, the defence minister had said: “As per Article 10 of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between Government of India and Government of France on the purchase of Rafale aircraft, the protection of the classified information and material exchanged under IGA is governed by the provisions of the security agreement signed between the two nations in 2008.”
In a tweet later, he targeted the government over what he called “the great Rafale mystery”. “Top Secret (Not for Distribution)/the defence minister says the price negotiated for each Rafale jet by the Prime Minister and his ‘reliable buddy’ is a state secret,” he wrote, but without naming the “reliable buddy”.
He claimed in the tweet the government had adopted a two-point action plan, whereby it would say “informing Parliament about the price is a national security threat”, and brand those asking about it as “anti-nationals”.
In the Gujarat poll campaign in November last year, Mr Gandhi had tweeted asking the defence minister the “final price of each jet”, and posed the question: “Did PM take CCS permission before announcing the purchase in Paris?”
The Congress also attacked the government over its silence on the questions raised over the Rafale deal. Addressing reporters, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged: “The Modi government is indulging in an unforgivable game of compromising national interests and national security. A huge scam is brewing in the procurement of fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force. Grave apprehensions and claims of insurmountable loss being caused to the public exchequer are in the public domain, with the government refusing to state the truth.” The Congress is also holding discussions with other Opposition parties to raise this matter on the floor of the House.