NEW DELHI: Congress on Monday upped the ante against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and reiterated a scam in the 2015 Rafale fighter jet deal. Former Defence minister AK Antony led the Congress charge. “Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman is misleading the country about the Rafale deal. She said in the Lok Sabha that in the Inter-Governmental Agreement between India and France there is a secret clause that prevents the 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,” he said.
Sitharaman had countered Rahul Gandhi recently in Parliament when the Congress leader said French president Emmanuel Macron had told him there was no such secrecy clause in the deal. The French government too issued 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 Rafale aircraft. Noting that 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. “It is very clear that from Rs 26 crore, the price had gone up to Rs 1670 crore. So, they have to explain Rs 526 crore during the UPA-negotiated price for 18. Now it has gone up to Rs 1,670 crore,” said Congress leader Anand Sharma.