Today, in parliament Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman replies to a debate on the Rafale jet deal saying that it is very important for the country to a timely purchase of ammunition.
The minister said in her response, “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. National security is important, no matter who is in power. We cannot run away from facts.”
Referring to the deal for 126 Rafale jets during the previous Congress-led government, Ms. Sitharaman said the assumption that the Rafale fighters were available off the shelf was mistaken. Among these, eighteen jets were to be delivered in fly-away condition.
She also questioned on government’s position on the Rafale deal saying,” by 2014, you couldn’t even get these 18 aircraft. Why? There wasn’t a deal? Today you get up to say what sense of urgency?”
Ms. Sitharaman said that “The inter-government agreement was signed in September 2016, and the first aircraft will be delivered in September 2019, the last in 2022.” She also informed about the advanced delivery of the 36 aircraft by five months.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi previously accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of wrongdoing. He also challenged stated there will be a criminal investigation into the Rafale deal if his party comes to power incoming national elections. “If we come to power in 2019, there will be a criminal investigation and people responsible will be punished,” said Rahul Gandhi.
The opposition party wanted to be formed a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the deal even though the Supreme Court recently gave a clean chit to the government.