Union Minister Arun Jaitley today took a jibe at the Congress, saying the party has "proved that in dynastic parties, ignorance is contagious". Addressing the media after a briefing for Council of ministers on the French deal, Mr Jaitley combined a sharp attack on the Congress and its chief with a reiteration that there was no way any private firm could benefit from the deal, since "not a screw is to be fitted in India".
Alleged benefit to a private party has been the thrust of Congress attack on the government over the French deal for 36 aircraft. The party's lists of allegations include cost over-run and deliberate lack of transparency on the deal to benefit "crony capitalists".
"No options satisfy the ego of an ill-informed gentleman... let the contagious problem remain with the Congress," Mr Jaitley said. "36 planes would be made there (in France). There is no scope for any private firm. Not a screw to be fitted in India," added the minister, who carried on a lengthy sparring with the Congress chief on the Rafale deal.
"Big firms like Boeing are coming to India now... manufacturing has started for the first time... Our policy is that defence lines keep getting sufficient orders. You can buy from foreign private players, but not involve an Indian player... we disagree with Congress on this," the minister added.
Earlier today, security experts briefed the ministers on the fighter aircraft deal so they could counter Congress attacks on the subject with information. The ministers were told that it was a deal between two governments and involved no private party, which left little scope for corruption.
India and France signed a deal worth Euro 7.87 billion (approximately Rs. 59,000 crore) in September 2016 for 36 Rafale jets. The Congress says the UPA deal that was scrapped to form the new one was better, paying one-third the price for 126 aircraft.