Rafale deal: Defence minister not kept in loop by PM Modi, says Congress

Congress on Monday hit back at Manohar Parrikar for attacking his predecessor A K Antony, alleging that the Defence Minister was not kept in the loop by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he clinched the high-profile Rafale fighter jet deal with French President Francois Hollande last month.

Kochi: Congress on Monday hit back at Manohar Parrikar for attacking his predecessor A K Antony, alleging that the Defence Minister was not kept in the loop by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he clinched the high-profile Rafale fighter jet deal with French President Francois Hollande last month.

"Parrikar in Parliament says negotiation is going on... Narendra Modi...Closed the doors and bought 36 planes," party spokesperson Sushmita Dev said here responding to a query on Parrikar's statement that Antony cannot "escape" the responsibility for the "stalemate" that he created during his tenure.

"Narendra Modi has surpassed the Defence Acquisition Council and in a closed door meeting took a unilateral decision," she said.

Attacking Modi on the Rafale deal, Dev said, "You cannot buy government to government unless there is an international agreement between the two nations. That agreement was not in place with France. As far as I know, it is not in place."

Noting that BJP leaders and former union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh had raised objections when the Rafale aircraft issue came up in 2011 when the UPA was in power, Dev said the Defence Minister must answer their questions on the deal.

"Has Parrkiar met it? Has Modi met it? (Then) who is he (Parrikar) to question Antony," she asked.

A combative Parrikar, who has been accused by the Congress of "compromising national security", said it took the brief spell of Arun Jaitley as the Defence Minister to start "moving the wheels" in the sector.

Last week, Antony had attacked Parrikar for 'compromising' on national security and questioned the Rafale fighter jet deal Modi clinched with Hollande.

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