- PM Modi said none of our jets would have gone down if we had Rafale
- If Rafale was acquired in time, it would have made a difference, he added
- PM Modi was addressing a rally at Gujarat's Jamnagar
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, furious at the opposition for questioning his comment on Rafale jets boosting India's firepower in the recent air confrontation with Pakistan, said today: "Use common sense".
PM Modi had said that the country was "feeling the absence of the Rafale jets" during the air strikes and "swarthneeti" (politics of self-interest) was to blame for it. That had generated a round of sparring between him and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, who has been accusing the PM of corruption in the purchase of 36 Rafale jets from France.
"Please use common sense; what I said was if we had Rafale at the time of air strikes, than none of our fighter jets would have gone down and none of theirs (Pakistan's) saved," PM Modi said, addressing a rally at Gujarat's Jamnagar.
"I said if Rafale had been acquired in time, it would have made a difference. But they say Modi is questioning our air force strike."
The Congress has been incensed over the ruling BJP's charge that its protests against the 36-aircraft deal with France had delayed the delivery of the fighter jets and so had left the Indian Air Force in the lurch during the February 27 aerial confrontation with Pakistan over India's air strikes on terror group Jaish-e Mohammed's camps at Balakot. The air strikes had drawn retaliation from Pakistan and in an aerial dogfight, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who shot down a Pakistan F-16 jet, was captured. He was released on Friday.
PM Modi, in his address at the India Today Conclave over the weekend, had said: "The country is feeling the absence of Rafale. The entire country is saying in one voice today, what all could have happened if we had Rafale".
Rahull Gandhi had shot back on Twitter: "Dear PM, have you no shame at all? You stole 30,000 crores and gave it to your friend Anil (Ambani). YOU are solely responsible for the delay in the arrival of the Rafale jets. YOU are WHY brave IAF pilots like Wing Cdr. Abhinandan, are risking their lives flying outdated jets."
The Congress alleges that the government's deal with manufacturer Dassault involved corruption and crony capitalism. The party accuses the government of accepting jets at an inflated cost, and overlooking the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited so industrialist Anil Ambani's rookie firm Reliance Defence could bag an offset contract.
The government, Dassault and Anil Ambani all have denied the allegations.
Disclaimer: NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group for its coverage of the Rafale deal