No scam in Rafale deal as alleged by Congress: Nirmala Sitharaman

There was no scam in the four-year old NDA government, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and therefore the Congress was coming up with such allegations, she told reporters.

Published: 08th June 2018 11:52 PM  |   Last Updated: 08th June 2018 11:52 PM   |  A+A-

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the 10th anniversary of the Centre for China Studies in Chennai on Friday June 08 2018. | PTI


CHENNAI: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today again asserted that there was no scam in the Rafale deal with France as being alleged by Congress and said disclosure of specifics about it could reveal the aircraft's capabilities to the country's rivals.

There was no scam in the four-year old NDA government, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and therefore the Congress was coming up with such allegations, she told reporters here.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi had been taking frequent potshots over the Modi government on the defence deal, alleging escalation of costs over that when UPA was in power.

The Opposition party has been demanding specific details in this regard.

Drawing the analogy of a car, Sitharaman said the same brand could cost a person more if the buyer wanted additional accessories and equipment fitted into it.

"These are accessories, additional fittings-- he (Gandhi) just says disclose the price.

If it is done so, it will reveal what kind of technology and equipment determined the price of the aircraft," she said.

"Ordinary citizens may not be bothered about it, but forces inimical to us, countries, would have realised the extent of the (capabilities of) Rafale. So will that be our strength or weakness?" she asked.

The Defence Minister said any disclosure by her in this regard may "satisfy" Gandhi "but also our rivals."

Training her guns on the Congress for its charges on escalation of cost,Sitharaman asked how one can determine if a particular product was cheaper or costlier without buying it.

"If they had purchased (the flights), had Congress concluded the deal and said we bought so many flights at said rate and then claimed we had paid more, then it is reasonable. But they did not conclude the deal at all. When you didnt buy (any aircraft), on what basis are you talking about additional cost?" she asked.

Despite IAF's requirement "there was no sense to keep the armed forces ready,to do something for the soldiers," she said.

The Congress-led UPA "put the deal in a deadlock and I am surprised to see you making allegations against those who finalised it (NDA)," Sitharaman said.

To a question on BJP's charge that Congress was backing Maoist elements, Sitharaman said the "party, very definitely, even at the level of their President, never hesitated to associate itself with those fringe groups of the Communists, Marxists and Leninists."

She alleged that Rahul Gandhi, as then Vice-President of the party, had met some students of JNU in Delhi, whom she accused of being "notorious for their Bharat tere tukde tukde." (chopping down India into pieces).

To a query on the recent suicide of medical aspirants from Tamil Nadu who failed to clear the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, she expressed regret over their deaths.

NEET was introduced only after consultations with the state government, she said, adding the idea was to make the medical admission process transparent.

One has to see whether the system had problems or "are we giving the right support" to the students, she added.

The Minister declined to comment on the violent May 22 anti-Sterlite protests in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, where 13 persons were killed in police firing.

She said an inquiry commission (constituted by the state government) was probing it.

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