New Delhi: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s boss is ‘silencing’ her, escalating the war of words between the Congress and the BJP over the Rafale deal.
Rahul Gandhi’s comments come a day after Sitharaman said that the Congress’ allegations on the procurement deal are ‘shameful’ and a ‘disservice’ to the armed forces. The Congress vice-president hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his response, and said, “Dear RM (Raksha Mantri), what is shameful is your boss silencing you.”
Gandhi sought to know why the Modi government ‘bypassed’ India’s public sector undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and whether it took the permission of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) before announcing the purchase of the jets in Paris.
The Congress has accused the NDA government of changing the ‘entire deal’ to benefit a businessman. It has alleged that after Modi visited France in April 2015, the government cancelled the earlier UPA deal that made HAL a partner of Dassault Aviation, and signed a new $8.7 trillion dollar deal in September 2016, as reported earlier.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, Sitharaman had said that the deal was finalised by following a ‘transparent procedure.’ She had asserted that the urgent requirement of the Indian Air Force was the reason why the deal was sealed.
The defence minister said that the deal was finalised after five rounds of lengthy discussions between Indian and French sides and approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security. She also claimed that no private party is involved in the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircrafts.