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Rafale deal: Francois Hollande's claims come at time when his associate facing charges, says Nirmala Sitharaman

The Defence Minister accused the previous Congress government of negotiating with "brokers" and not buying important equipment required for the defence forces.

Published: 29th September 2018 04:13 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th September 2018 06:31 PM   |  A+A-

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses a press conference at Officers Training Academy OTA in Chennai Saturday September 29 2018. | PTI

By PTI

CHENNAI: Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Saturday said former French president Francois Hollande's claims on the Rafale deal has come at a time when he himself was facing allegations that his associate had received some funds for some purpose.

Speaking to reporters at the Officers Training Academy here, she said, "Here was the former president of France who himself is facing an allegation of his associate having received some funds for some purpose. It (allegation) may be true or may not be true. But in such a situation, the former president saying this."

On September 21, a French media report quoted Hollande as purportedly saying that the Indian government proposed Reliance Defence as a partner for Dassault Aviation in the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale jet fighter deal and France did not have a choice.

The defence minister also took a swipe at Congress President Rahul Gandhi's August 30 tweet, saying he seemed to be predicting Hollande's actions well in advance.

"It is done well in advance. It is very interesting," she said.

On August 30, Gandhi tweeted "Globalised corruption. This #Rafale aircraft really does fly far and fast! It's also going to drop some big bunker buster bombs in the next couple of weeks. Modi ji please tell Anil, there is a big problem in France."

To a question on much-delayed S-400 deal with Russia, Sitharaman said the deal was almost at a stage where it could be finalised.

Asked if the 'surgical strike' across the border, the second anniversary of which is being today, has deterred intrusions, she said a lot of them were being eliminated at the border itself and they were not allowed to come in.

"I would believe that action of this kind would deter Pakistan in training and sending terrorists," she said.

On reports that a defence ministry official had raised objections on-record to the Rafale deal before it was signed in 2016, Sitharaman said various committees hold discussions for every procurement, "During talks every opinion is recorded, differential opinions are also recorded. But after that, when the decision has to be taken, all of them have to come on the same page and take a call," she said.

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