Congress's charge on Rafale deal politically motivated: Nirmala

Congress's charge on Rafale deal politically motivated: Nirmala

Congress's charge on Rafale deal politically motivated: Nirmala

Sitharaman said she has asked CII officials to hold discussions with the state government and chart out a plan.

He also asked her whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken permission from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) before announcing the purchase of the Rafale fighter aircraft in Paris.

Rahul has been raising questions on the Rafale deal inked by the government to buy 38 fighter planes with no technology transfer; ignoring the deal signed by the UPA government to procure 126 planes. She also claimed that no private party is involved in the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircrafts. "The government has negotiated a very good deal".

The decision to strengthen the Air Force was taken by the Vajpayee government in 2000 but the Congress-led coalition, which came in 2004 could not seal the pact over the next decade. The delivery of the jets is scheduled to begin from September, 2019. "This potentially compromised national security interests", she said.

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French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, after talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today, spoke about the deal as he expounded on the "strategic dimension" of the bilateral ties.

Sitharaman told reporters here that the NDA Government went for the purchase as an "emergency" procurement. She said that the previous dispensation spent 10 years in the procurement procedure of 126 fighter jets and did not sign the deal even after the lowest bidder was selected.

Separately, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the charges levelled by the Congress over the Rafale deal were "baseless". Indian Air Force bases at Ambala in Haryana, close to the western border, and Hashimara in West Bengal, close to the China border, are set to home the squadrons of Rafale fighters. She was flanked by the Defence Secretary and the Deputy Chief of the Indian Air Force on the podium, but only she answered the questions.

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