Sitharaman’s scathing response to Gandhi on allegations against Rafale deal

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The Rafale deal has been under a lot of scrutinies by the opposition for quite a while now. Rahul Gandhi has flung severe accusations against the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi during a series of public rallies and a road show called Janashirvad Yatra. He then proceeded to post a series of tweets with questions and further accusations

“Tomorrow, the PM faces an Open Book #RafaleDeal Exam in Parliament.
Here are the exam questions in advance:

Q1. Why 36 aircraft, instead of the 126 the IAF needed?

Q2. Why 1,600 Cr instead of 560 Cr per aircraft.

Q3. Why AA instead of HAL?

Will he show up? Or send a proxy? “, read his tweet from January 2nd to which Nirmala Sitharaman jokingly referred to him as a student who fails in the classroom that boasts and challenges from outside.

The basis of Rahul Gandhi’s claim is the initial Rafale deal that was initiated in 2012 with Dassault Aviation under the UPA government which included 126 aircraft, 18 out of which were to be supplied fully built and the remaining 108 aircraft were to be built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). This was not finalized due to the disagreement over not ensuring the HAL built aircraft quality by Dassault.

The deal dragged on until it was declared, by the then defence minister A.K. Antony, that it could not be signed in 2014 due to budgetary constraints. This discourse continued until Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India would be purchasing 36 fully built aircraft. An Inter-governmental deal was signed in September 2016.

The controversy ensued when Indian National Spokesperson, Manish Tewari asked for the dealings to be made public and questioned the escalation of the cost of each aircraft from Rs 715 crores to Rs 1600 crores. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has denied all accusations and has said the terms of the 36 aircraft deal could not be compared with the 126 aircraft deal. Other accusations such as conspiring with Anil Ambani and leading HAL to bankruptcy piled on and were denied as well.

Recently, HAL had to take a loan of Rs 1000 crores to pay salaries which added fuel to the fire. In the Parliament discussion on Friday, the defence minister stated that “The Congress is shedding crocodile tears for HAL. The Congress government gave 53 waivers to HAL… We have given contracts worth Rs. 1 lakh crore,”

As a response Rahul Gandhi tweeted “When you tell one lie, you need to keep spinning out more lies, to cover up the first one. In her eagerness to defend the PM’s Rafale lie, the RM lied to Parliament. Tomorrow, RM must place before Parliament documents showing 1 Lakh crore of Govt orders to HAL.”

She was quick to clap back with proof of said orders and demand for resignation in her tweet on 6th January “It’s a shame that the president of @INCIndia is spreading lies and misleading the country. HAL has signed contracts worth 26570.8Cr (Between 2014 & 2018) and contracts worth 73000Cr are in the pipeline. Will @RahulGandhi apologize to the country from the floor of the house and resign? ”

This volley of allegations that have been launched at the current government by the opposition now seems to be in vain since the defense minister has successfully provided the demanded proof, besides there is a reason the UPA negotiated deal did not reach the finish line.

Both these deals were made at different times with different terms so they cannot be compared. HAL cannot compete with the quality and efficiency of production of the aircraft produced by Dassault that will come fully equipped.

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