Rafale: Congress says Defence Minister misled the House to protect PM

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 07, 2019

The Congress claimed the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the BJP are spreading wrong information in to protect Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Rafale deal. The party is also mulling a Privilege Motion against the Defence Minister for “misleading” the Lok Sabha during a debate on the deal.

Talking to reporters, Congress President Rahul Gandhi maintained the Defence Minister lied in Parliament on the orders given to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Sitharaman had claimed in Parliament that the Narendra Modi government has given orders worth ₹1 lakh crore.

“Scared by breach of privilege in Parliament, Defence Minister today (Monday) said between 2014 to 2018, only orders worth ₹26,570 crore have been given to HAL. Orders worth ₹73,000 crore are merely at ‘Request For Proposal’ (RFP) stage. The lies stand exposed,” a note circulated to media by the Congress said. Rahul Gandhi added that the Defence Minister “lied to the people” and just ₹26,570 was released to the HAL.

Reiterating his stand that the Centre favoured Anil Ambani’s company, the Amethi MP said ₹20,000 crore was given to France’s Dassault Aviation without making even a single aircraft. “But why have HAL’s dues of ₹15,700 crore not been cleared?” he asked.

The Congress President said he met HAL employees who said they are being starved and destroyed. “Why was it necessary to destroy HAL? With a strong HAL, you simply cannot give the contract to anybody else,” Rahul Gandhi said.

“Anil Ambani has never built an aircraft, whereas HAL has built different types of aircraft. So, the strategy of the Centre is to weaken HAL.,” he added.

Rahul Gandhi said the Opposition is trying to protect HAL and will not allow ₹30,000 crore of people’s money to be taken away by Anil Ambani just because he is Narendra Modi’s friend.

On pricing

Former Defence Minister AK Antony, who held a press conference, said the Modi government is refusing to form a JPC because it has something to hide. “Why is the government hiding the actual price of the aircraft in the new deal?” he asked.

Gandhi added that Sitharaman did not answer any of his questions in her two-and-a-half hour speech.

Published on January 07, 2019

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