Rafale Debate: Sitharaman dismisses allegation of corruption in Deal

Sitharaman, Image: Lok Sabha TV

New Delhi, Jan 4: The Parliament on Friday witnessed a heated debate over the Rafale fighter jet deal. 

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman dismissed all allegations of corruption, while the Congress President raised questions and accused direct involvement of  Prime Minister Narendra in the matter. 

“Bofors was a scam, but Rafale was a decision taken in national interest. Rafale will bring back Modi to build a new India and remove corruption,” she said in a reply lasting over two-and-a-half hours in the Lok Sabha to a debate on the deal with French manufacturer Dassault.

The Minister said there was a difference between defence dealings and dealing in defence.

“We deal in defence with national security as a priority,” she said.

“Congress government gave 53 waivers to HAL while we have given contracts worth Rs 1 lakh crore,” she said.

The Minister informed the house that first Rafale aircraft will be delivered in September 2019, While 36 aircraft in the year 2022.

Speaking about the process of negotiation, she said it was completed in 14 months.

“There is a difference between defence dealings and dealing in defence. We don’t do defence dealings. We deal in defence with national security as a priority”, stated.

“Emergency purchases are always two squadrons. In 1982, when Pak was buying F-16s, Indian government then decided to buy 2 squadrons of MIG-23 MF from erstwhile Soviet Union, in ’85 again 2 squadrons of Mirage 2000 bought from France & in ’87- 2 squadrons of MIG-29″, she added.

“According to the offset guidelines, defence acquisition council may prescribe varying offset obligations. Accordingly, offset obligation of 50% was prescribed for Rafale. If you buy for Rs.100, you have to invest or procure Rs.50 from India”

Meanwhile, the Congress President told the house “Price is not part of the secrecy pact. My question is Anil Ambani was brought in for the contract. Who was the one to decide on Anil Ambani? , he aksed.

“In my conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron, he told me that price was not part of the secrecy pact between India and France and you are welcome to say this publicly. Former French president Francois Hollande had said that Mr Anil Ambani’s name was provided to me by the Prime Minister of India and the Government of India”, he said.

Gandhi further stated “The Defence Minister said we are accusing her. Madam, I am not accusing you or Mr Parrikar, I am accusing PM Narendra Modi. Other than to defend a lie, you have done nothing. I have no proof to say you are involved in a lie, but I am very clear the Prime Minister is directly involved in the Rafale scam”.


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