Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today that the first aircraft would be delivered in September this year and 36 aircraft’s would be delivered by 2022. In a hard-hitting response to Congress accusations against Rafale deal, she accused that it is scared of facts. Stating that her government had completed the process of negotiations in 14 months, she recalled that UPA regime failed to complete even after years together.
She accused the opposition of politicking over the deal without regard to the national security implications. She also blamed the Congress of failing to finalise the deal to purchase of fighter aircraft.
“It is very disheartening. This country needs to know that defence purchases are national security related and very important, whether they are in power or we are,” Nirmala said. “We have had wars in northern and western frontiers. Timely purchase equipment should be the priority. We have to recognise the sense of urgency,” she added.
She also accused the Congress of failing to clinch the deal for the purchase of the Dassault Rafale fighter jets, and alleged that corruption in defence acquisitions by the Congress was the reason for this. “There is a difference between defence dealings and dealing in defence. We don’t do defence dealings. We deal in defence with national security as a priority… Congress did not intend buying the jets. For every ‘AA’ there is a ‘Q’ and ‘RV’,” she said, in a reference to the Bofors scam.
Nirmala also attacked the Congress chief over his references to HAL. She accused the Congress of doing little to strengthening HAL in the 10 years that it was in power. “HAL will only give helicopters, it won’t give anything else,” she said, hinting that the Congress had left HAL in the lurch because it could not offer any extra-contractual benefits.
She added,”The environment around India is very volatile. It is important for us to understand that whosoever is in power, will want peace. But it cannot be at the cost of making our armed forces feel that they are not being given enough to fight.”
“Timely getting the equipment should be the priority. Our two borders are always highly sensitive and it is important to timely purchase the ammunition. We have had wars in northern and western frontiers. We have to recognise the sense of urgency.”