Union minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said the CAG report on Rafale deal has vindicated the NDA government’s stand and slammed the Congress for “manufacturing” lies over the issue, saying it did the same against VP Singh over the St Kitts issue in 1989.
Soon after the CAG report, tabled in Parliament, said 17.08 per cent of money was saved for the India-specific enhancements in the 36 Rafale plane deal, Jaitley said Congress president Rahul Gandhi had “manufactured statistics and data which does not exist” and that the Opposition party has a “legacy” in this regard.
Gandhi has been repeatedly raking up the Rafale issue, alleging that the NDA government was buying the fighter planes at rates higher than those proposed by the previous UPA government. “CAG report vindicated the stand of the NDA government and blasted the big lie spearheaded by the Congress. Rahul manufactured statistics and data which do not exist. Using that data, he repeated the lie to the country,” Jaitley told ANI in his first interview after returning to India from New York where he had gone for treatment.
“This is the Congress’ legacy. Congress stands for the destruction of institutions. In 1989, the Rajiv government manufactured a St Kitts issue against VP Singh who was a clean man. Exactly 30 years later, history is repeating itself. The Congress’ scandals are evident from court proceedings. They want to malign the image of Prime Minister Modi,” he said.
The St Kitts issue, to which Jaitley referred, involved allegations by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi against V P Singh's son Ajeya Singh that he had a bank account in St Kitts. The case, however, fell later in the court as no evidence was found. Sharpening his attack on the Congress, Jaitley said that while, on the one hand, the Indian Air Force (IAF) was in dire need of Rafale jets, those with “vested interests” have been trying to make the deal a controversial one.
“On one hand, IAF had been demanding increased combat ability as our neighbouring countries had scaled up theirs, on the other hand, vested interests have been trying to make this deal controversial. What started in 2000 was stalled in 2012, and national security was compromised. There was no valid reason for stalling the deal. This (Rafale) is a combat aircraft that IAF needs,” he said.
Jaitley asserted that the deal inked by the NDA government in 2016 is one that is not just cheaper but also more sophisticated in terms of weaponry package.
“The CAG in its report said the NDA deal is cheaper than 2007. Keep in mind, this cheaper that they have mentioned can be wider. The 2016 package of weaponry is more sophisticated than the previous one. Also, in 2007, the escalation clause was 3.5 per cent per year, while in 2016, it was 1.2 per cent, which is the European rate of inflation. When the aircraft start arriving in 2019 and further on, the gap in the escalation clause will widen. This deal entails better maintenance provision, tighter delivery schedule, and faster negotiations,” he said.