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Ready For Questions On Rafale Deal, Says Defence Minister Sitharaman

DIVYIA ASTHANA | 0
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| March 4 , 2018 , 11:43 IST

The government deal for the French Rafale fighter jets has been in controversy, since it was first finalised under the UPA government, cancelled, and then again finalised by the NDA government.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday, ahead of the second leg of the Parliament Budget Session 2018 beginning from Monday, said that she would welcome questions on the Rafale deal, on which the government has largely remained silent.

“I will welcome it (If the Congress brings up the Rafale deal in Parliament). We are ready,” said Sitharaman, adding that the government was still ramping up the production of the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft.

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The Congress has, on several occasions, alleged a scam in Rafale deal, accusing the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government of fixing the deal in a matter to favour specific businessmen and at a greater price than the deal fixed by the UPA.

The NDA government on Saturday once again slammed the Congress for levelling allegations regarding the Rafale deal worth Rs 59,000 crore for 36 French fighter jets, saying that it was not a scam like the Bofors scandal of 1989.

Defence Minister Sitharaman said, “Don’t even compare it with the Bofors case. There is no scam here.”

Regarding the Rafale deal, the Congress has alleged that the 'non-transparent' deal was vastly overpriced, violated defence procurement procedures, included no transfer of technology and was 'intended to benefit the Anil Ambani-promoted Reliance Defence'.

The NDA government has rejected these allegations strongly, saying that it secured a "better deal" in terms of price, capability, equipment, delivery and maintenance than the one “notionally being negotiated” by the previous UPA regime.