NEW DELHI: As Rahul Gandhi continues to attack the government over the Rafale deal, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday questioned if the Congress president could even compare a basic aircraft's pricing with a loaded aircraft. "Can you compare a basic aircraft's pricing with a loaded aircraft? Can you compare simple aircraft with a weaponised aircraft," Jaitley targetted Rahul.
Defending the government over the Rafale deal, Jaitley termed Rahul's allegation of a more expensive jet being purchased as 'factually false'. "Every fact that they have said on pricing is factually false... Mr Rahul Gandhi himself has given seven different prices in different speeches with regard to the Rafale, that is the 2007 offer. And the simple case is they have made it as if it is a kindergarten or primary school debate,” Jaitley said in an interview to news agency ANI.
Slamming Congress for not finalising the deal when UPA was in power at the Centre, Jaitley said that the previous government compromised the nation's security through policy paralysis and by not going ahead with a deal even though the tendering process was complete.
"If in 2012 they had come to an agreement, the first would have been delivered in 2017. From 2007 to 2017 the escalations would have gone up, along with a foreign exchange variation. So there is India specific add-ons and the foreign exchange variants… Is the Congress party aware that if you take the 2007 L1 offer and the escalation clause without the add-ons, the price negotiated in 2015-16 is cheaper," Jaitley asked.
Jaitley also claimed that contrary to Congress's allegations, the Narendra Modi-led NDA government finalised the deal at a lesser price. "Let us first come to the pricing. My question therefore is, if you are fully aware -- Mr Anthony fully read the file and abandoned the contract -- he would tell his party that the L1 offer of 2007 had a basic 2007 price plus escalation plus currency variation. In 2015 or 16, this would have been 9 per cent costlier than what the basic aircraft price of 2016 negotiated was… Loaded to unloaded, you compare the price again. The 2016 price is 20 cent cheaper than the 2007 offer. So we got it cheaper," Jaitley added.
Jaitley challenged the Congress party to produce evidence that the deal was not good for the country and attacked Rahul Gandhi for twisting the facts of the deal.