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Defence Minister's remarks proves graft in Rafale deal, says Cong

Corporate interests over national interest has been the Modi government's "mantra", Priyanka Chaturvedi alleged

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Rafale, Rafale jet

Launching a fresh attack over the issue, the on Sunday alleged that Nirmala Sitharaman's remarks about "corporate warfare" proved that the government had given preference to corporate interests over interest.

Priyanka Chaturvedi, during a press conference here, said Sitharaman's recent statement has "conclusively proved that this is a government of the suited-booted, for the suited-booted and by the suited-booted".

Accusing the opposition of spreading misinformation on the deal, Sitharaman had Saturday wondered whether parties were becoming pawns in corporate rivalry and whether the procurement of 36 fighter jets was being "sabotaged".

During her address at an event, Sitharaman had said ever since the government assumed office, there has been a conscious effort to keep middlemen at bay from the corridors of the

Corporate interests over interest has been the government's "mantra", Chaturvedi alleged.

The defence minister's recent statement regarding the "scam" is as "fallacious" as her Parliament reply, she said.

"By bringing this argument about 'corporate warfare', the Modi government's 'defenceless' seals and stamps the party's charge that the Rs 30,000 crore offset contract and Rs 1 lakh crore life cycle cost contract' in the was given to his crony friend's company which had zero experience and was brazen 'cronyism' at its best," Chaturvedi alleged.

In the process, 75-year-old public sector undertaking (HAL) lost out to a company that was started just 12 days prior to the deal announcement.

Chaturvedi said the Congress wants answers from the as to what was the compulsion to "snatch" the Rafale contract from HAL, even though a work share agreement worth approximately Rs 36,000 crore was already signed on March 13, 2014.

The needs to explain why it cancelled the UPA deal of 108 and announced a fresh RFP for 110 MMRCA on July 6, 2018, after four years of assuming office, Chaturvedi said.

The government has to reply as to why it rejected the Air Force's need and demand for 126 fighter and decide to buy only 36 jets, she said.

The Congress also alleged that Sitharaman claimed HAL did not have the capability to produce 108 aircraft in and asked whose corporate interests was she defending.

Chaturvedi also slammed Sitharaman for her reply in deal, alleging that the defence minister said she cannot divulge the offset partners in the deal, but in October, 2017, the French defence minister met Sitharaman and went to to attend stone-laying of Dassault-Reliance JV with her Cabinet colleagues and CM.

"Why did she lie to the Parliament? What brief is she holding and to guard which 'corporate entity'? Chaturvedi asked.

While we all know that was incorporated 12 days prior to the deal, what is interesting is that was incorporated 14 days after the announcement of purchase of deal and the licence for the same was granted by helmed by Sitharaman, she said.

The Congress has been alleging corruption in the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft with repeatedly targeting Modi over the issue.

The BJP, as well as Ambani, have rejected all the charges. The NDA government has stated that the deal signed by it was honest and cost less than what was decided during the UPA dispensation.

First Published: Sun, January 20 2019. 19:20 IST