The NDA government has once again slammed Congress for their baseless charges against 59,000 crore worth deal of 36 French Rafale fighters. The govt. stressed that the scam was of Bofors which brought down Rajiv Gandhi’s government in 1989.
“I will welcome it if the Congress brings up the Rafale deal in parliament. We are ready,” said defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman. She also stated that the government had also put its full weight behind ramping up the production of the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft.
Defence minister was asked if the rafale controversy can further derail the IAF’s acquisition plans as after Bofors scam it took 30 years to get howitzer. Sitharaman said, “bilkul nahi hoga, Don’t even compare it with the Bofors case. There is no scam here.”
She further said that the Rafale deal is better in terms of price, capability, equipment, delivery and maintenance as the one being negotiated on hypothetical terms of Congress.
The congress alleged that the deal was overpriced and was intended to benefit Anil Ambani-promoted Reliance Defence as offset partners for French fighter manufacturer Dassault Aviation. They also alleged that the deal broke defence procurement procedures and included no transfer of technology.
Sitharaman also said that the government is putting all its energy and efforts into making the Tejas fighter at a very fast pace.
“We are not ditching the Tejas. We want it both for ourselves (IAF) as well as export to other countries. They (HAL) have to increase their production from the existing six to eight Tejas per year. We also want the Tejas Mark-2 at the earliest,” said the minister.
Indian Air Force should have 42 fighter squadrons if they have to face threats from Pakistan and China, they currently have 31 squadrons. The government has sanctioned Rs 1,381 crore for this in March 2017.