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Saturday, April 13 2024

Explain ‘Reliance’ on someone with nil experience: Rahul on Rafale deal

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New Delhi: Ignoring Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Defence Limited’s threat to sue the Congress, Rahul Gandhi on Thursday continued the attack on the BJP government over the Rafale fighter aircraft deal and asked the Centre to explain its “Reliance” over a leading business group with no experience in aerospace technology.

In a series of taunting tweets, Rahul said Reliance Defence Limited has been picked to partner French firm Dassault in an act of “crony capitalism”.

“Self ‘Reliance’ is obviously a critical aspect of Make in India… Can you explain ‘Reliance’ on someone with nil experience in aerospace for Rafale deal?” Rahul said in a series of tweets.

The Congress has alleged that the Government neglected the interests of public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as French manufacturer of Rafale aircraft Dassault Aviation refused to transfer technology to it and instead entered into an agreement with Reliance Defence.

It has also alleged that the aircraft was being purchased at much higher rates than what was decided after the completion of the tender process under the previous UPA government.

Rahul also took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who, in the past, he has accused of running a “suit-boot ki sarkar” or government for the rich.

“Modi ji – nice touch removing the suit. What about the loot?” the Congress vice-president tweeted, attaching a report on his party’s allegations on the Rafale deal.

The Congress had on Wednesday alleged that the Rafale deal amounted to compromising on national interest and security and promoted “crony capitalism”, while causing a loss to the public exchequer.

Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Limited has threatened to sue the Congress if it does not retract its charge, according to a report in NDTV.

Reliance Defence said, “Government policy issued on 24 June 2016 allows for 49 per cent FDI in the Defence Sector under the automatic route, without any prior approval. No approvals from the Union Cabinet or CCS were required for the formation of the aforesaid Joint Venture company under the automatic route.”

Meanwhile, PTI’s French diplomatic sources on Wednesday asserted that the Rafale fighter aircraft deal was in India’s interest.

They said the military jet was selected for its “outstanding performance” and “competitive price”, while refusing to directly counter the Congress’ allegation, terming it a “domestic political issue”.

“Rafale has been selected for its outstanding performance and competitive price, following a transparent procedure. The offset clause is going to help develop the defence industry in India,” the sources told PTI, adding that there was a need to “check the facts” before making claims on the contrary.

Under the agreement, the French side has made a 30-per cent offset commitment for military aerospace research and development programmes and the rest 20 per cent for manufacturing the components of the Rafale aircraft.

Asked whether France was keen on augmenting the deal, the sources maintained that it was up to India, but added that the focus currently was on delivering the 36 aircraft on time.

“If there are further needs, we will be more than happy to propose our cooperation. But that is not for us to decide and we are not focusing on it currently,” they said.

With inputs from PTI

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