Sitharaman said Congress is shedding crocodile tears over HAL not getting the deal and asked why it didn’t settle issues in their tenure.
New Delhi: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, replying to debate in Lok Sabha on the Rafale jet deal today, said the timely purchase of equipment should be a priority.
In an attack on Congress, Sitharaman said, “They did not intend to buy the aircraft till something else was not done. You stopped the deal forgetting that Indian Air Force was suffering because it didn’t suit you as the deal didn’t get you any money.”
She added that Congress is shedding crocodile tears over HAL not getting the deal and asked why it didn’t settle issues in their tenure.
The defence minister alleged that Congress is misleading the country stating that the NDA government reduced 126 Rafale jets to 36. She clarified that Congress was supposed to buy 18 in fly-away condition, the NDA raised that to 36.
"There is something different between defence deal and deal in defence," she said, asserting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government gave priority to national security.
"The Indian Air Force always advises the government to buy two squadrons, which is 36 aircraft instead of 18, in case of emergency purchases," the Minister said.
Sitharaman stated that delivery of first Rafale will be in September 2019 and the last aircraft of 36 jets will be delivered in 2022.