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Cong manufacturing corruption, compromising national security: FM on Rafale

In this government, because Congress could not find any corruption cases, they manufactured one: Jaitley

IANS  |  New Delhi 

India will get the first of its 36 Rafale fighter jets in 2019
India will get the first of its 36 Rafale fighter jets in 2019

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday slammed the for "manufacturing" corruption charges against the government in questioning the deal to purchase Rafale fighter jets from France.

In his reply to the debate on the Budget, which was cut short by protests and ruckus, he said the was trying to manufacture a scam in Rafale fighter jet purchase because it could not find corruption case in the government's tenure so far.

"The UPA government was stigmatised because of corruption. In this government, because they could not find any corruption cases, they manufactured one," Jaitley said.

He also cited a number of written replies to Parliament by Defence Ministers of the previous (UPA) governments, where they had refused to quote the price in defence deals citing security concerns.

"When you give details of a defence transaction, you give the details and capacity of the weapon system, which you don't want to inform the enemy (about). At least 15 previous RMs including Pranab Mukherjee and A.K. Antony have refused to give details of armament purchases," he said.

This was countered by MP Shashi Tharoor, who said the opposition did not want any details that would compromise security and the government can just reveal the price of purchase.

Jaitley however said that a breakup of the price may reveal details of the missiles and equipment that are in the deal. He also questioned if Congress President Rahul Gandhi was on the same page as Tharoor, prompting protests from opposition benches.

"Breakup of cost will tell what weapon systems are there in the deal. These security pacts are inherent part of these defence contracts.

"Secrecy is an inherent part of any deal. Congress is compromising security by asking for details which should not be made public, that is, known to the enemy," the Minister added.

Jaitley's reply was cut short by protests by Congress MPs and other opposition members, and the House was adjourned.

Gandhi then took to Twitter and said Defence Minister had said in November 2017 that she will reveal the price of the Rafale planes, but held in February 2018 that it was a "state secret".

Congress has alleged that there are irregularities in the deal for buying 36 Rafale fighter jets off-shelf from France, signed between the Indian and French governments. It claimed that the fighter jets are being bought from France at a price higher than what was negotiated in the previous multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal under which 126 fighter jets were to be bought, and included a number of fighters being assembled in India.

On Wednesday, the government issued a statement calling Congress' charges "unfounded", and reiterated that all due procedures have been followed in the deal, which was done to meet the urgent requirement of fighter jets for the (IAF).

First Published: Fri, February 09 2018. 06:32 IST