NEW DELHI: The Congress upped the ante against PM Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and reiterated a scam in the 2015 Rafale fighter jet deal.
Former defence minister AK Antony lead the Congress charge: "Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman is misleading the country about the Rafale deal. She told in the Lok Sabha that in the Inter-Governmental Agreement between India and France there is a secret clause that prevents centre from revealing the actual price of Rafale aircraft. The statement is totally wrong."
"The more they are trying to hide, the more suspicion will add."
Sitharaman had countered Rahul Gandhi recently in parliament when the Congress leader said French president Emmanuel Macron had told him that there was no such secrecy clause in the deal. The French government too issues a statement backing Sitharaman.
Antony pointed out that in the 2008 UPA agreement, there was no secret clause that prevented the government from revealing the pricing of the Rafale aircraft.
Noting there was no technology transfer and production of 108 aircraft at HAL, Antony said the price negotiated during UPA time might have substantially reduced without these two conditions.
"Instead government procured the aircraft at substantially higher prices. That is why this government is reluctant to reveal actual details," he said.
Instead of HAL, the private sector company got a joint venture with the French company, said the Congress.
"The Prime Minister arbitrarily without any sanction of the CCS announced the purchase or acquisition by India of 36 ready to fly aircraft from Dassault the holding company which manufactures many planes including Rafale," said Congress leader Anand Sharma.
"It is very clear that from Rs. 526 crores the price had gone up to Rs. 1670 crores. So they have to explain Rs. 526 crores - during the UPA negotiated price for 18. Now it has gone up to Rs. 1670 crores," he said.