New Delhi: Terming the Congress charges 'half-truth and baseless arguments', Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman lashed out at the grand old party over the Rafale fighter jets deal. She said that their allegations will not tarnish the government's image.
"It doesn't tarnish govt's image, campaign which Congress is doing with half truth and baseless arguments is almost sabotaging Indian Armed Forces' operational readiness and support is being reflected from our not so friendly neighbour," Sitharaman said.
The Defence Minister denied that the Rafale deal had snatched jobs from the Indian aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
"There is no truth in the Congress allegations on the Rafale deal as they are based on falsehood and half-truths. The question of taking away jobs from HAL does not arise as the UPA government had no deal with its maker Dassault Aviation," Sitharaman told reporters here on Sunday.
With Former French president Francois Hollande's bombshell on the Rafale deal, a massive war of words has fuelled in the country. Following allegations and accusations from Congress, the ruling BJP government has also come up with counter attacks.
Accusing the previous Congress-led UPA government of ignoring the needs of the Indian Air Force (IAF) whose squadron strength has depleted to 33 from 42, Sitharaman further said the inter-government agreement on Rafale was much better than what was proposed in the non-deal of the previous regime.
"The intent of the agreement was very well stated in the joint statement that it shall be a better deal in every way," asserted Sitharaman.
Blaming the then United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for not finalising the deal with Dassault during its tenure, the Defence Minister said the Congress campaign on Rafale was irresponsible and baseless, as its government failed to seal the deal with HAL.
"There were only statements but no action during the UPA period. If we have taken away the jobs, let the Congress show the agreement its then government had with the HAL on Rafale," reiterated Sitharaman.
(With inputs from IANS)