Rahul, Jaitley engage in Twitter war

Congress chief claims PM has admitted to ‘theft’ in Rafale deal; Minister hits back, calls it falsehood

A day after the Centre filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, explaining the decision-making process in buying 36 Rafale fighter jets, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sparred on Twitter. Launching a fresh offensive against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress chief tweeted to allege that the Prime Minister had admitted to “theft” in the Rafale deal.

The Finance Minister hit back with his tweet that “falsehood is no substitute for Rahul Gandhi’s failed politics”.

Cost factor

On a day when Dassault CEO Eric Trappier, in an interview to the news agency ANI, said the NDA’s deal was 9% cheaper than what the UPA had negotiated, the Congress said the Centre’s affidavit “concealed more than it revealed”, and posed a series of questions to the Modi government. These developments came a day before the top court hears the Rafale case again on Wednesday after going through the Centre’s affidavit, where it claimed to have followed the requisite Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP). “Modi ji has admitted to theft in the Supreme Court. In the affidavit, he admitted to changes in the contract without asking the Air Force and put Rs. 30,000 crore in [Anil] Ambani’s pocket. There is more to add to this picture, my friend,” Mr. Gandhi tweeted in Hindi.

“UPA delayed the Rafale purchase, much required for improving the combat ability of Indian Air Force. Is Rahul Gandhi’s failed politics compelling him to render India’s sensitive defence requirements controversial?” tweeted Mr. Jaitley. Based on the Centre’s affidavit, former Union Minister Manish Tewari posed a series of questions. He said if the 36 Rafale jets were a case of fresh acquisition and not a continuation of UPA’s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal, then the government should have spelt out fresh standard qualitative requirements (SQRs) but that was not the case. “Price of 36 was exactly the same when you compare with 18 flyaway. The 36 is the double of 18… so as far as I was concerned, it should have been double the price. But because it was government-to-government, there was some negotiation.

I had to decrease price by 9%,” he said. In response to the Congress chief’s charge that he had lied about Dassault choosing the Anil Ambani-led Reliance on its own, Mr. Trappier claimed that he didn’t have to lie in his position as a CEO. “I am totally clean in front of the laws of my country. We are totally clean in France. We are also totally clean in India,” Mr. Trappier said. However, in 1998, a former director of Dassault was awarded a suspended sentence for bribing Belgian politicians to win a tender.


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