The Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee president N Uttam Kumar Reddy today expressed surprise over the BJP government at the Centre saying the price of Rafale fighter aircraft was a 'secret'.
Reddy said only operational details like weapons carried on aircraft can be a secret but not the price.
Reddy said he was a highly qualified fighter pilot of the IAF for several years, with the experience of flying MIG 21 and MIG 23, who had served on China and Pakistan borders.
"Based on my experience in handling fighter aircraft and long service in Indian Air Force and prevailing circumstances, I can say that the behaviour of BJP government with regard to Rafale fighter aircraft is leading to suspicion that country's defence purchases do not seem to be above board," Reddy was quoted as saying in a party release.
"It is very surprising why Prime Minister of India and Defence Minister are saying that the price is secret.
This is not true. This is not a historically backed fact. The operational details like weapons carried on aircraft, radar range, and weapons' range could be secret. But never the price of the aircraft," he said.
Reddy said there are examples wherein previous governments had revealed the purchase price.
"On March 15, 2010, the then defence minister A K Antony revealed in Lok Sabha that the warship INS Vikramaditya was purchased at a cost of USD 2330 million," he said.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said the India-France agreement to buy the fighter jets was signed in 2008 by the then defence minister A K Antony and it had the confidentiality clause.
"It was an agreement of secrecy. Protection of classified information...," she said in the Lok Sabha.
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