New Delhi: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday asserted that there was absolutely "no scandal" in the Rafale fighter jet deal with France and allegations of wrongdoings relating to it were politically motivated. Without naming the Congress, Sitharaman said, "false comparisons" were made between the price at which India was procuring the jets and the price being negotiated by some other countries.
"I am assuring you in the company of all the senior officials that yes there is no scandal in Rafale. We are very clear about that," she said replying to a question on allegations of the scam in the Rafale deal.
She was addressing a press conference along with top officials of the defence ministry on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the NDA government. "Absolutely," she said when asked whether she can assure that not even a single rupee has been made in the Rafale deal. She called the allegations very clear case of "motivated attacks".
Sitharaman also said that there has been no allegations of corruption against any officials of the defence ministry in the last four years. India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore, nearly one-and-half years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the proposal during a visit to Paris.
The delivery of the jets is scheduled to begin from September 2019. The Congress had raised several questions about the deal including the rates and accused the government of compromising national interest and security while causing a loss to the public exchequer.
The Congress has been demanding details of the deal including the cost of equipment and weapons, alleging that the deal negotiated under its rule was much cheaper than the contract signed by the Modi government.
The government has been refusing to give an item-wise cost and other details about the deal in Parliament citing confidentiality provisions of a 2008 Indo-France pact. The UPA government had negotiated a USD 10.2 billion deal for the 126 jets. However, the deal could not be finalised.