A Dassault Rafale fighter jet flies during a demonstration at the 47th International Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France. (Photographer: Antoine Antoniol/Bloomberg News)

Rahul Gandhi And Arun Jaitley Spar Over Rafale Deal

The fight over the controversial Rafale fighter jet contract intensified with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi questioning the “deal” struck between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and industrialist Anil Ambani. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley then accused him of resorting to falsehood.

Gandhi launched a direct attack on the prime minister over the twin issues of demonetisation and the multi-billion dollar Rafale deal at a news conference today. Hundreds of Youth Congress workers took to the streets in Delhi to protest against the jet contract, dubbing it as the “biggest scam” of the country.

The Congress chief accused Modi of “lying” over the Rafale deal, as he reiterated his demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the contract with France. He asked why the fighter jet was purchased at Rs 1,600 crore instead of the Rs 520 crore cost finalised during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.

Citing the 2015 joint statement made by Modi and French President Franois Hollande, Gandhi said, it is clearly written there that the aircraft and associated systems and weapons would be delivered on the same configuration as had been tested and approved by the Indian Air Force. “It is clearly written that the configuration is going to be of the same configuration. So the man is lying.”

Jaitley rebutted saying the fully weaponised fighter jets which his government is buying are 20 percent cheaper than the ones offered under the previous UPA regime. On Twitter, the finance minister Jaitley said diversionary tactic will not wipe out the falsehood of the opposition leader.

In a blog written yesterday, Jaitley had posed 15 questions to Gandhi, charging him with “peddling untruth” and carrying out a “false campaign” on the Rafale deal.

The Anil Ambani group has denied receiving any contract from the Defence ministry and said “unfounded and incorrect” allegations were being made to “mislead people and cloud the issue”.