By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 08, Feb 2019, 12:28 pm IST | UPDATED: 08, Feb 2019, 12:29 pm IST
A report that the Ministry of Defence objected in 2015 to the PMO's "parallel negotiations" with France on the Rafale defence deal has drawn a furious reponse from the Congress, which has long raised allegations of crony capitalism in the agreement.
"Layers of Rafale scam tumble out! PM Modi nailed directly," Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted on Friday, citing a report by N Ram, the publisher of The Hindunewspaper. (Scroll down for a detailed breakdown of the article.)
India's main opposition party has alleged that the NDA's Rafale deal -- for fewer jets overall but more planes in a flyaway condition -- is costlier than the UPA-era deal, now scrapped. A second allegation: that Reliance Defence, one of the jetmaker's offset partners, was chosen under pressure from the Centre.
The BJP said Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Nirmala Sitharaman -- the defence minister -- had already given detailed statements on the issue. Party leader
Former Defence Secretary Mohan Kumar, who left a handwritten message on the note for Manohar Parrikar, told India Today TV he didn't remember the context in which he wrote it.
"I don't remember the exact context in which I made that note," he said. "I handled many files regarding this over a long period. Without understanding the context I cannot say anything...Moreover I do not wish to respond further on this."
He later told ANI the defence ministry's dissent note had nothing to do with price, and that it was about sovereign guarantees and general terms and conditions.
In an address to Parliament on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Congress wanted the Rafale deal cancelled as it was batting for another company.
"You do not want the Air Force to be strong. With which company are you siding? At whose behest you have been speaking so?" he asked, charging that middlemen were always part of defence deals when the Congress was in power.
BJP leaders have alleged that the Congress has been batting for Eurofighter, which was in competition with Rafale for India's bid to acquire the fighter planes.
Asked today about PM Modi's allegation that the Congress was weakening the Air Force, Rahul Gandhi claimed Narendra Modi has stolen thousands of crores