"Perception Battle, Will Fight It": Nirmala Sitharaman On Rafale Row

The Congress has alleged a major corruption scandal over a government contract to acquire 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

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Nirmala Sitharaman said the centre wasn't worried about facing charges in the Rafale row.


New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Nirmala Sitharaman said that she would lead a nationwide campaign
  2. "We need to fight the perception battle," the defence minister said
  3. She said Rahul Gandhi's allegations had an "international dimension"

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, referring to the Congress broadside on the Rafale jet deal, said today that she would lead a nationwide campaign to "fight the perception battle" with a series of press conferences.

"We need to fight the perception battle. Many of us will be speaking across the country. Facts have to come out," Nirmala Sitharaman said.

The minister also targeted Congress president Rahul Gandhi, saying his allegations had an "international dimension" and would be exposed.

The Congress has upped the ante against the government after former French president Francois Hollande commented last week to the French media that France had been given no choice about picking Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as Dassault's offset partner in 2016.

Rahul Gandhi has seized the Mr Hollande comment to bombard the government with questions and allegations. "An ex-president of France is calling him (the prime minister of India) a thief. It's a question of the dignity of the office of the prime minister," he told reporters.

The Congress has targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Nirmala Sitharaman for not disclosing the purchase price of the 36 aircraft citing confidentiality.

"Their disclosure is even more intriguing when both Dassault and Reliance have disclosed the price in the Annual Report, 2016, and the press release dated February 16, 2017," said the Congress, alleging a "shoddy cover-up, the self-defeating assertions and the deliberate lies".

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