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NEW DELHI: The “Mr Jaitlie” dig made a comeback as Congress president Rahul Gandhi, in attack mode over the Rafale aircraft deal, sought to debunk the finance minister’s claim that the erstwhile Congress-led UPA dispensation had not revealed the price of defence purchases.
As the government continues to hedge demands to disclose details of the Rafale deal, Rahul summed up the entire business by using the hashtag “daal me kuch kaala hai (there is something fishy going on).”
“Dear Mr Jaitlie, you said the UPA never released prices of Defence purchases? To nail your lie, here are 3 Parliamentary replies by the UPA with full transparency on pricing. Now do ask our Raksha Mantri to tell India how much each RAFALE jet cost,” he tweeted.
Dear Mr Jaitlie, You said the UPA never released prices of Defence purchases? To nail your lie, here are 3 Parlia… https://t.co/RWV6LpVTlZ
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG)
The images attached to Rahul’s tweet show that during its tenure, the UPA had apprised Parliament of the cost of procuring the Sukhoi aircraft from Russia, the cost of acquiring INS Vikramaditya as well as the cost of upgradation of Mirage aircraft, thereby putting the information in the public domain.
Rahul’s attack comes a day after finance minister Arun Jaitley strongly rebutted the Congress party’s repeated demands for disclosure of details of the multi-billion dollar aircraft deal. He’d accused the party of compromising national security by asking for details
Earlier in the day, Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala accused the government of “doublespeak” on the Rafale deal and “sacrificing” national interests.
He listed a series of questions for the government, including on the price, the secrecy surrounding the deal, the government’s silence on the issue and alleging that prior permission of the Cabinet Committee on Security was not taken.
“What is the price per aircraft of the 36 Rafale aircrafts being purchased by the Modi government? Did Raksha Mantri Nirmala Sitharaman not agree to share the price of Rafale aircrafts in a press conference in Raksha Bhawan on November 17, 2017? Why are PM, RM & FM hiding the ‘purchase price’?” he asked.
According to Surjewala, while Sitharaman refused to disclose the price on grounds of a “secrecy agreement”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did not do so for reasons of “national security”.
India had inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore, nearly one-and-half years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the proposal during a visit to Paris.
Congress has alleged that there are irregularities in the deal for buying 36 Rafale fighter jets off-shelf from France, claiming that they were being bought at a price higher than negotiated. The party has also dubbed the defence pact the “biggest scam” of the Modi government and demanded that the prime minister make a clarification on the issue.