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‘Don’t Shed Crocodile Tears For HAL’, Nirmala Sitharaman Attacks Congress Over The Rafale Deal

PRERNA YADAV | 1
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| January 4 , 2019 , 15:12 IST

As Lok Sabha resumed the debate on the Rafale fighter jet deal on Friday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman strongly defended against opposition on the Rafale deal.

Responding to the Opposition's query on Rafale, Sitharaman said there was no agreement signed between Dassault and HAL. She said the Congress was shedding crocodile tears on Rafale issue.

She said Congress was scared of facts," National security is important. We can't run away from the facts".

She further said the environment around India is being very volatile. To ensure peace, Indian Armed forces must be their priority, she said, "It is important for us to purchase ammunition to ensure internal security."

She further added,  "We have sensitive borders, need timely purchase of ammunition. Post Kargil, we thought our defence forces need more firepower. China added 400 aircraft between 2004 and 2015 — fourth and fifth generation. Pakistan more than doubled aircraft. In 2002, we had 42 squadrons, in 2015, 33 squadrons."

She informed the first aircraft will be delivered in September 2019 and 36 aircraft will be delivered in the year 2022. The process of negotiation was finished in 14 months.

Then defence minister asked ‘Where is the money to buy aircraft?’ outside Parliament. I want to ask which money. Money is kept separately even before you sign the agreement. Congress knew payment schedules. They did not intend to buy aircraft till something else was done. Difference between defence dealings and dealing in defence."

She accused Congress of corruption and said, "Who was it who didn’t settle with you and you did not complete the deal, compromising national security. Their treasury’s security was more important."