Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday slammed Congress party and its chief Rahul Gandhi for making baseless allegations while asserting that Rafale fighter jet deal would bring Narendra Modi back to power in parliamentary elections.
Dismissing all allegations of corruption in the Rafale deal and said it was “far better on every count” on pricing, processes and other factors. Reminding Congress of its corrupt regime, she said the Bofors deal done under its duration was a scam.
In a spirited two-and-half hour reply in the Lok Sabha to a debate on the deal, Sitharaman said Congress dilly-dallied on the deal and did not conclude it for over a decade, putting national security at jeopardy but the BJP government finalised it within 14 months.
The minister gave the reply on a day when Congress claimed “fresh revelations” about Modi increasing the benchmark price from euro 5.2 billion to euro 8.2 billion. She rubbished the allegations as “false”.
“I come from a middle-class family and have my honour intact and the Prime Minister comes from a poor background and has come up the hard way. Being ‘naamdar’ does not give the right to make baseless allegations. Family name does not give right to call anyone a ‘chor’ (thief),” she said in an emotive manner in a reaction to Rahul Gandhi’s attack on her and the Prime Minister.
“It is not a prerogative of ‘khaandan’ (family) to protect themselves,” she asked, referring to Gandhi’s demand that he needed a chance to protect himself. My honour, PM’s honour have been insulted. Have you apologised. Nobody has the right to call this. Who gives him the right to call us like that?” she said.
“Bofors was a scam but Rafale is a decision taken in national interest. Congress lost its government due to Bofors. The Rafale deal will bring back Modi to have a New India, transforming India and to remove corruption,” the Defense Minister stated.
Her reply was marked often by interruptions from the Opposition benches.
She lambasted the Congress for failing to clinch the deal, as she said: “There was a reason that the previous UPA government did not do anything required for the deal between 2006 and 2014.”
“They (UPA) were dealing for 18 flyaway aircraft. Why there was no agreement? You did not even buy a single aircraft. They did not intend buying. There is a difference between defence dealings and dealing in defence. We deal in defence as national security with priority,” she said.