Sitharaman tears into Congress over Rafale deal allegations

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday launched a scathing attack on the Congress party, saying that the acquisition process of Rafale fighter jets got delayed because of the inaction by United Progressive Alliance(UPA), while it was in power for ten years until 2014.

“Between 2004 and 2014, entire decade the UPA could not arrive at a decision. Twelve long years of negotiations and still (there was) no decision, although critically recognising the need for strengthening the Air Force,” said Sitharaman while addressing a press conference here.

The defence minister said that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government came to power in 2014, the situation was ‘grim’ and that they “had to move quickly forward so that the Air Force is not left unattended.”

The rebuttal comes a day after Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi accused the government of causing loss to the public exchequer in the purchase of 36 fighter jets from France-based Dassault Aviation.

“Allegations relating to the Rafale deal are shameful, the deal was finalised following a transparent procedure,” Sitharam countered.

The defence minister poked holes in Gandhi’s allegations and said, “We went as per procedure the agreement was signed with the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) loop and the active participation of my predecessor Manohar Parrikar.