New Delhi, Feb 9: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday accused Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of speaking a “lie” about UPA Defence Ministers not having disclosed cost of defence purchases, and demanded the government disclose the price of each Rafale fighter plane.
Gandhi, in a tweet in which he addressed Jaitley as “Jaitlie”, posted three written answers given by former Defence Minister A.K. Antony in which he gave acquisition cost of 42 Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft, the upgrade cost of Mirage 2000 and acquisition cost of Admiral Gorshkov (now INS Vikramaditya).
“Dear Mr Jaitlie, you said the UPA never released prices of Defence purchases? To nail your lie, here are 3 Parliamentary replies by the UPA with full transparency on pricing. Now do ask our Raksha Mantri to tell India how much each Rafale jet cost,” he said.
Jaitley had on Thursday slammed the Congress for “manufacturing” corruption charges against the government in questioning the deal to purchase Rafale fighter jets from France.
In his reply to the debate on the Budget, he had also said he had with him responses from Defence Ministers of previous United Progressive Alliance governments who had not shared details of armament purchases on security concerns.
Gandhi later defended his use of “Jaitlie” for the Union Minister.
“Arun Jaitleyji yesterday (Thursday) said in Parliament that we did not disclose the prices of defence purchases. We have shown that we did. So what else do I call him? He is not telling the truth,” he told reporters.
Congress leaders Randeep Singh Surjewala, Rajeev Gowda and Pramod Tewari separately interacted with the media to pose several questions on the deal, including the price per aircraft, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s back-tracking on revealing the price, and why she and Jaitley were speaking on different voices on the issue. They alleged that price inked by the government was three times that negotiated by the UPA.
They said that Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon were found to be equal on all technical requirements by Indian Air Force and asked that after the Eurofighter later gave an offer to reduce its prices by 20 percent, why no fresh bids were sought through ‘inter-governmental agreement route’ to get the best price.
They also asked why state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd was superseded for a Rs 30,000 crore offset contract though it had signed “a work share agreement” with Dassault Aviation.