Rahul Gandhi stands by remarks on ‘secrecy pact’ in Rafale deal

Rahul Gandhi stands by remarks on ‘secrecy pact’ in Rafale deal
Photo: ANI

New Delhi: Even as France on Friday denied that Rahul Gandhi had been told by French President Emmanuel Macron that there was no secrecy pact with India on the Rafale jet deal, the Congress President stood by his remarks, saying that the clarification had been made in the presence of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party leader Anand Sharma.

“Let them deny it if they want. He (Macron) said that before me. I was there, Anand Sharma and Dr Manmohan Singh were also there,” Gandhi told reporters here.

Following Gandhi’s remarks during the debate on the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha, the French government issued a statement that there was a legally binding security agreement, which also covers the agreement to purchase the Rafale fighter jets by India.

It also said that the French President had indicated publicly in an interview that the deal was very sensitive and all details cannot be revealed.

Gandhi had said that there was no secrecy pact with India on the Rafale deal, alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had “lied to the nation” about it.

“I personally met the French President and asked him if there was a secrecy pact with India. He told me that no such pact was signed between the two countries. He said that he had no hesitation in saying this and that I can tell this to my country,” he said.

Gandhi said the price of each plane during the UPA regime was Rs 520 crore but when Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to France and “with some magic”, the price for each plane increased to Rs 1,600 crore.

Congress Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said: “The Modi government, including Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, have misled the people and Parliament on the Rafale deal pricing. This diabolical game of (causing) loss to the public exchequer has ended up sacrificing the interest of public sector undertaking, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).”

“With unilateral purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft, Modi suffers from complete non-transparency in disclosure of purchase price, violation of mandatory provisions of defence procurement procedure, absence of prior clearance from Cabinet Committee on Security, and sacrificing national interest on ‘transfer of technology’ to HAL.”

“…bypassing HAL on the Rs 36,000 crore ‘offset contract’ in favour of a company with zero experience of manufacturing fighter aircraft,” he added.

IANS