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Rafale: Def Min Nirmala Sitharaman’s reply, abrasive and evasive – like Jaitley’s

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Rafale

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, replying to an acrimonious debate in Parliament on the Rafale jet deal today remained focused more on attacking the Congress than answering the questions raised by the opposition parties.

Sitharaman accused the Congress of scrapping an earlier deal when it was in power because it “didn’t get the money” and ignored social security in favour of its “treasury security” – allegations which lack even circumstantial evidence, compared to the more substantive material against the Narendra Modi government.

The minister also alleged that the Congress was shedding crocodile tears on HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) not getting the offset contract with Rafale-maker Dassault as the party did nothing to scale up the capacity of the state-run company.

“You stopped the deal, forgetting that the Air Force was suffering. You didn’t conclude the deal because it didn’t suit you. The deal didn’t get you money. They did not intend to buy the aircraft till something else was done. There is something different between defence deal and deal in defence,” Sitharaman said in her response to the three-day debate.

“We don’t do defence dealings. We deal in defence with national security as our priority,” she said.

The Congress alleges that the BJP-led government scrapped a deal for 126 aircraft negotiated by the previous UPA government to go for an overpriced deal for 36 aircraft only to help Anil Ambani, whose inexperienced defence company bagged an offset contract with Dassault.

Sitharaman said the assumption that the Rafale fighters were available off the shelf was “mistaken”, referring to the 126 aircraft deal. Eighteen of those jets were to be delivered in fly-away condition.

The minister accused the Congress of misleading the country by saying that the current government reduced 126 Rafale jets to 36. “The Congress was supposed to buy 18 in fly-away condition, the NDA raised that to 36,” she said.

She also emphasised that unlike the previous deal, which never materialised, the delivery of first Rafale aircraft will happen in September 2019 and the last aircraft of 36 jets will be delivered in 2022.

“By 2014, you couldn’t even get these 18 aircrafts. Why? There wasn’t a deal? Today you get up to say what sense of urgency? The Indian Air Force always advises government to buy two squadrons, which is 36 aircraft instead of 18, in case of emergency purchases,” the minister said.

Sitharaman reminded the opposition members while India added no fighter aircraft, its hostile neighbours kept increasing their air power.

“China added 400 aircraft between 2004-14 including 5th gen aircraft while Pakistan increased aircraft by doubling its F16s,” Sitharaman said.

She said even in the old agreement, the first Rafale batch was to be delivered after three years of signing the agreement while the Modi government in view of the urgency went for inter-governmental deal.

Refuting allegations that the NDA government neglected HAL, she said that the previous governments never signed any agreement with HAL either.

“They could not sign a deal with HAL but they are shedding crocodile tears today,” Sitharaman added.

Earlier, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said there would be a criminal investigation into the Rafale deal if his party comes to power in this year’s national elections. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was running away from the questions posed to him.

“If we come to power in 2019, there will be criminal investigation and people responsible will be punished,” he said.

The opposition has demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the deal even though the Supreme Court recently gave a clean chit to the government.

 Questions unanswered:

The opposition has been asking why PM Modi scrapped the earlier deal for purchase of 126 Rafale aircraft, which was said to be almost done according to authoritative statements till days before Modi’s sudden announcement of a new deal in Paris.

It has also questioned the increase in price when the aircraft was to be delivered with the same configuration as that negotiated by the previous government.

The opposition also questioned why Anil Ambani’s Reliance was chosen over public sector HAL as offset partner for Rafale manufacturer Dassault and why the transfer of technology envisaged under the previous deal was foregone.

It also pointed out circumstances like Ambani forming the company just days before Modi announced the deal during his Paris visit, on which the industrialist had accompanied the PM.

The government in its replies in Parliament has also sidestepped allegations that it misled the Supreme Court.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Mamata Banerjee accuses BJP of plotting riots on Ram Navami

The Bengal chief minister added at an election rally that the BJP will win the election by vote looting and rioting.

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday alleged that there are plans being hatched to incite riots in West Bengal on the occasion of Ram Navami. Last year’s celebrations were marred by violence in the state, which lead to a massive confrontation between the Trinamool Congress and BJP.

She said the BJP will engage in rioting today. There is a prospect and possibility of rioting. The Bengal chief minister added at an election rally that the BJP will win the election by vote looting and rioting. Earlier Banerjee greeted the people of West Bengal and appealed to maintain peace during the celebrations. The BJP, however, condemned it and said that the West Bengal CM is humiliating the Indian and Sanatani culture.

BJP Rajya Sabha MP and spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee has made a post on social media appealing to maintain peace, this is demeaning the festival of Ramnavami as on the other religious occasions she has given the message of peace, but here she is asking to maintain peace instead of giving the message of peace and prosperity. He added by doing this she is trying to humiliate the Indian and Sanatani culture.

Both the BJP and Trinamool Congress held Ram Navami processions across West Bengal. Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari attended one such Ram Navami procession in the New Town area of the city, while Trinamool Congress minister Arup Roy and TMC’s Howrah Lok Sabha constituency candidate Prasun Banerjee walked with Ram Navami processions in Howrah town.

Many similar processions, small and big, with youths chanting Jai Shri Ram and holding saffron flags and replicas of swords amid frenzied beating of drums, took place across West Bengal. Police and security forces are staying vigilant and the situation has remained peaceful so far.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

MK Stalin says if Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes to power again, the country would go back by 200 years

MK Stalin said if PM Modi comes to power again, the country will be pushed back by 200 years and history will be rewritten.

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Tamil Nadu CM and DMK leader MK Stalin said on Tuesday that if Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes to power again, India would be pushed back by 200 years.  Stalin was addressing a rally in Sriperumbudur in the state in support of DMK candidate TR Baalu, he said, if PM Modi comes to power again, the country will be pushed back by 200 years and history will be rewritten.  He asserted that science will be pushed back, and superstitious stories will be given prominence. He added that Dr BR Ambedkar’s constitution will be replaced by the rules of the RSS.

The Tamil Nadu chief minister said a vote for the BJP is a vote for the enemy of state, a vote for the AIADMK is a vote for the betrayers of the state. Stalin hit out at the AIADMK and said that voting for the AIADMK was equivalent to voting for the BJP.

He added the AIADMK and the BJP were called natural allies, but they are now acting as if they are separated. The Tamil Nadu CM pointed out that when he was asked if the AIADMK would support the BJP in case they need majority, Edappadi K Palaniswami did not say that the AIADMK would not support the BJP. Stalin said everybody is waiting to see AIADMK’s answer.

The Tamil Nadu CM asserted that the AIADMK can never go against the BJP. He said a vote for the AIADMK is equivalent to a vote for the BJP. Stalin responded to former chief minister and AIADMK general secretary Palaniswami’s claim that he had got several awards from the centre and said that Palaniswami had got the awards for being the best of slaves. He said they are carefully implementing schemes for the development of Tamil Nadu and Palaniswami claims that he has got awards from the central government.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Prime Minister Narendra Modi says RJD is responsible for destroying Bihar, slams Lalu’s party over various corruption cases

The prime minister made a scathing attack at the opposition and said Ghamandia Gathbandhan has no vision or trust. He said when INDIA bloc alliance goes out asking for votes, then they do so on the basis of the work done by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that India and Bihar are moving forward to return to their ancient glory and added the upcoming Lok Sabha elections is an election to take a resolve for developed India and developed Bihar. PM Modi was addressing an election rally in Bihar’s Gaya, where he said that the public support that has gathered on the land of Gaya clearly shows enthusiasm of the people once again for the Modi government.

The prime minister spoke on BJP’s manifesto for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and said that it is for the first time that a Sankalp Patra of any party is being called a guarantee card as in the last 10 years, people have seen Modi’s guarantee for fulfillment of a guarantee.

PM Modi said for the next five years, Modi’s guarantee card has been updated. He promised 3 crore houses will be made for the poor, the poor will get free ration for the next 5 years and those above 70 years of age will receive free treatment upto Rs 5 lakhs He said the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi yojana will be continued and all of these are Modi’s guarantees.

The prime minister made a scathing attack at the opposition and said Ghamandia Gathbandhan has no vision or trust. He said when INDIA bloc alliance goes out asking for votes, then they do so on the basis of the work done by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. PM Modi said the people of Bihar know why they try and take credit for the work done by Nitish and the central government.

The prime minister said RJD is responsible for destroying Bihar and slammed Lalu’s party over various corruption cases including land for jobs scam, fodder scam. Speaking about BJP’s manifesto PM Modi said, there is a roadmap for every section and sector of the society.

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