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Why did Congress sit on Rafale deal for 10 years: Nirmala Sitharaman
December 18 2017, 02:50 | Irvin Gilbert
Rafale row: 'Shameful that boss is silencing you', Rahul Gandhi hits back at Nirmala Sitharaman
The Defence Minister had said that the condition of Air Force was very grim in 2014 when the National Democratic Alliance led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected to power. "The deal was finalised following a transparent procedure", Sitharaman told reporters.
She was repeatedly asked by the journalists to share the comparative aircraft costs for the two governments, following Congress's allegations that 36 jets would now be obtained at Rs 58,000 crore whereas the previous agreement would have entailed the procurement of 126 Rafale jets at around Rs 54,000 crore in 2012.
"Why is the Modi government and Defence Minister hiding the purchase price?" It was not financially prudent to negotiate ToT for just 36 fighters, she said. "We had to move forward fast", she said.
The deliveries of the aircraft will start from 2019 end, and will be ended in 2022.
Prime Minister Modi spoke to the French government during his April 2015 visit.
"I am well placed to know that our defence partnership is significant, as shown through the Rafale and Scorpene projects? to mention only the most emblematic ones". "The allegations are politically motivated since they are not able to find any corruption in this Government", Sitharaman said.
Although government sources have previously argued that the two prices can not be compared because of different add-ons, weapon suites, training, maintenance and infrastructure requirements in the two agreements, Sitharaman said that "we have obtained a far better deal per aircraft (than the UPA)". Gandhi said the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman should explain the final price of a Rafale jet.
When asked about reports that several members of the high-level committee examining the bids dissented and noted that Rafale was not the lowest bidder (L 1), Sitharaman said, "I will go back to see what it is". Indian Air Force bases at Ambala in Haryana, close to the western border, and Hashimara in West Bengal, close to the China border, are set to home the squadrons of Rafale fighters.
Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra and Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal R Nambiar were also present at the briefing.