Launching a scathing attack on the Opposition in the Lok Sabha crucial Rafale deal, Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Congress is scared of facts. “National security is important. We can’t run away from the facts.”
Informing the lower house about the deal, the defence minister said, “The first aircraft will be delivered in September 2019 and 36 aircraft will be delivered in the year 2022. The process of negotiation was finished in 14 months.”
“We have had wars in northern and western frontiers. Timely purchase equipment should be the priority. We have to recognise the sense of urgency,” the defence minister said.
Citing former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s role in the Kargil War, Sitharaman said, “It’s important for us to purchase ammunition to ensure internal security.”
“Senior members of the Opposition don’t want to hear my answers. 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,” Sitharaman said.
China and Pakistan are building a bigger fleet. The UPA government wanted only 18 flyaway fighter jets. UPA created a deadlock, she said.
“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,” she said.
Responding to senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, Sitharaman said, “I want to say to Kharge ji, who is member of Standing Committee that looked into various issues related to Defence production, in a report stated “Standing Committee is disappointed to know that even after 3 decades HAL hasn’t been able to develop the required aircraft.”
Defence Minister during the debate also said, “Congress is shedding crocodile tears for HAL. Congress govt gave 53 waivers to HAL. We have given contracts worth Rs 1 lakh crore.”
Earlier in the day, BJP MP Anurag Thakur in Lok Sabha said, “PM Modi answered on every issue in the 95-minute interview. What did Rahul Gandhi expect Ms Smita Prakash to ask? ‘What you like to eat, how is your dog etc?’ And later Rahul Gandhi attacking the woman journalist for it is extremely condemnable.”
“Congress took more than 20 days to prepare for the debate. When the opposition brought forward a leader to lead the discussion, it was a confused and a corrupt leader, who is out on bail. He left after speaking 20 lies in 20 minutes,” he said.
Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge when the house met for the session said, “The affidavit submitted by the Centre before the Supreme Court is wrong. Centre misguided SC & public. This is the reason we are demanding a JPC.”