The Congress on Sunday launched a fresh attack on the centre over allegations of wrongdoing in the Rafale jet deal, after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in an event warned against getting caught in the crossfire of corporate rivalry.
"By bringing this argument about corporate warfare, the Modi government's defenceless defence minister seals and stamps the Congress party's charge that the Rs 30,000 crore offset contract and Rs 1 lakh crore life cycle cost contract in the Rafale deal was given to his crony friend's company, which had zero experience and was brazen cronyism at its best," Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi said in a press conference today.
On Saturday, the defence minister had accused the opposition of spreading misinformation about the Rafale deal. "I want every strand of this debate to be explained, as much as it can be, without any of us playing into the hands of international corporate warfare. None of us should play party to any corporate warfare. We cannot become pawns in the hands of the corporate giants to constantly bully the government, to constantly throw misinformation at the public, to misinform the public," Ms Sitharaman had said, according to news agency PTI.
Her attack on the opposition parties comes a day after a report in The Hindu newspaper claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to buy 36 Rafale jets, instead of 126 as negotiated by the previous UPA government, was taken while bypassing mandated procedures, pushing the price of each aircraft by 41.42 per cent. The Congress has launched attack at the government on the Rafale deal citing this report.
Ms Chaturvedi said the Congress wants answers from the defence minister as to what was the compulsion to "snatch" the Rafale contract from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), even though a work share agreement worth approximately Rs 36,000 crore was already signed on March 13, 2014.
The Congress spokesperson alleged that Ms Sitharaman claimed HAL did not have the capability to produce 108 aircraft in India and asked whose "corporate interests" were she defending.
The Congress has been alleging corruption in the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft with party president Rahul Gandhi repeatedly targeting PM Modi over the issue.
With inputs from PTI
Disclaimer: NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group for its coverage of the Rafale deal.