Sitharaman said the talks for purchase of French Rafale fighter jets began in the year 2000 and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government did not take any concrete decisions after holding negotiations between 2004-2013. Gandhi tweeted, "Why PM bypassed experienced HAL & gave the deal to AA rated businessman with no defence experience?"
Sitharaman also said that no procedure was violated in the deal that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government signed, and that it was inked after clearance by the Cabinet Committee on Security.
While reiterating the allegations levelled by Congress two days ago, Surjewala said the National Democratic Alliance government's "repeated attempts at shoddy cover-up and complete non-transparency in purchase of Rafale aircraft" have raised serious questions. Former Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, in a press conference days before retiring last year in December had said that the IAF needs at least 200 more fighter jets in next 10 years.
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He also asked the media why it was not posing questions to Modi, whom he accused of changing the Rafale deal to the "benefit one businessman".
"These allegations are shameful.The deal was finalised following a transparent procedure", Sitharaman told reporters.
Sitharaman was in Chennai on Saturday and met with a host of defence companies including L&T, Reddy Group, MRF, TVS, LMW, EEYES, besides several micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) at an event organised by the Confederation of India Industry (CII) in Chennai. "But it is not limited to the acquisition of military assets, it is far broader than that, as exemplified in our cooperation in the Indian Ocean", she said. "It is lower than what was there in the MRMCA contract", he said without going into specifics. The minister was highly critical of the UPA government for not finalising the Rafale deal during its decade-long rule. Why don't you question Prime Minister Modi on the Rafale deal, or on Amit Shah's son.