Cong’s anti-Rafale drive false: Jaitley
New Delhi, August 29
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday spoke on the issue of Rafale jets and termed the accusations of Congress president Rahul Gandhi a “false campaign”.
In a Facebook post, Jaitley went on to ask 15 questions from the Congress. “A false campaign based on untruth has been launched by the Congress, casting a cloud on the inter-governmental agreement,” he said.
He said there were three principal arguments of this campaign. First, the NDA government paid higher price to Dassault (manufacturers of Rafale). Second, a proper procedure such as negotiations by the contract negotiation committee and approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) were not obtained. And third, a private industrialist in India was favoured and the interest of public sector undertaking was compromised. “Each one of the above issues raised is based on complete falsehood,” Jaitley countered.
He said it was the UPA (2004-2014) that delayed the deal by over a decade and seriously compromised national security. “Every fact that Rahul and the Congress has spoken on pricing and procedure are completely false,” Jaitley said, adding: “Its (Congress’) effort of raising these issues is to further delay defence procurement so that India’s defence preparedness suffers further.”
He asked 15 questions: “Was it not the UPA that suffered from a decision-making paralysis and delayed this for over a decade? Did this delay seriously compromise national security? Was this delay and eventual abatement of the purchase by the UPA based on collateral considerations as had been witnessed in earlier transactions such as the purchase of the 155 mm Bofors gun?” He questioned how Gandhi had quoted a different price of the Rafale on separate occasions.
An in-principle approval for acceptance of necessity of procurement of 126 fighter jets was recorded by the Defence Minister in June 2001. The UPA approved the necessity of procuring 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft and issued a tender in 2007 to six global plane makers. It took the UPA five more years to commence the negotiations and in January 2012, Dassault was determined to be lowest bidder.