Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the discussion on Rafale deal in the Lok Sabha on Friday
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the discussion on Rafale deal in the Lok Sabha on Friday

Rafale a matter of national security which Cong neglected for 10 years: Nirmala Sitharaman

ANI | Updated: Jan 04, 2019 16:47 IST

New Delhi [India], Jan 4 (ANI): Intensifying her attack on the Opposition, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the discussion on Rafale deal in the Lok Sabha on Friday asked why the Congress did not add a single fighter jet during its 10 years governance. The Defence Minister added that the Congress stopped the Rafale deal while forgetting that it would impact Indian Air Force.
"You have a commercial bid anywhere. After the bid is opened, will there be any interference? They (Congress) are now talking about interference from the PMO. This is interference? Because, somebody did not receive something somewhere? This is interference? You stopped the deal forgetting that the Air Force was suffering," Raksha Mantri said while adding that Rafale fighter jet deal was "a matter of national security".
"This is a matter of national security and in this forgetting the importance of having to buy it in time this is the kind of khilwad (joke) which was going on," she said
The Defence Minister also reminded the Opposition that while India added no fighter aircraft, its hostile neighbours kept strengthening and enhancing their air power.
"China added 400 aircrafts between 2004-14 including Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft while Pakistan increased aircraft by doubling its F16", Sitharaman told the House.
Sitharaman said: "Independent monitor who was appointed by the Raksha Mantri then cleared the process. But in June 2012 even after clearance by the independent monitor, they (Congress) did not buy it. why?"
Lambasting the Congress party, during debate on Rafale fighter jet deal in the Lower House, Sitharaman said that there is a difference between defence dealings and dealing in defence.
"We don't do defence dealings. We deal in defence with national security as a priority." the Defence Minister added.
Sitharaman said that the Congress gave 53 waivers to HAL, however, the Modi-government gave contracts worth Rs 1 lakh crore.
Sitharaman added that either the Congress party or the former French President was misleading the country on the Rafale fighter jet deal.
Sitharama said, "Rahul Gandhi on 20 July in the Parliament said, he had asked the French President about the secrecy pact but he denied its existence and `he (also told me that he has no issues in making the cost public'."
The Defence Minister further said a Congress spokesperson had earlier said the party will not discuss India's defence deals with a foreign head of state, this discussion the government has to do with France and not us.
Seeking for proof Sitharaman said, "Who is truthful? One of them is misleading the country."
On the Opposition uproar during the debate, Sitharaman said: "Senior members of the Opposition don't want to hear my answers. It is very disheartening. This country needs to know that defence purchases are national security related and very important, whether they are in power or we are."
The Rafale jet deal controversy has been on the boil over the last few months. The Congress and other Opposition parties have been alleging irregularities in the high-profile deal for purchase of 36 fighter jets, which the ruling BJP has outrightly rejected. (ANI)