BJP challenges Cong to disclose price it negotiated for Rafale during UPA-II

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Jaipur, Nov 5 (PTI): Accusing Congress president Rahul Gandhi of misleading people on the Rafale deal with France, the ruling BJP on Monday challenged the opposition party to disclose the price at which the fighter aircraft was offered to India during the tenure of UPA-II government.

MoS for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal claimed that the price proposed during the UPA-II rule was higher than the deal signed by the BJP-led government and the Congress party was at pain because this dispensation has kicked out middleman from the government-to-government deal.

He also said Anil Ambani’s company is not the only offset partner of Dassault Aviation as other firms have also tied up with the French manufacturer as offset partners under the Make in India programme.

“Congress is talking about the price of the plane which was offered during UPA-I but not UPA-II. Negotiations took place on the first price and the Congress should tell people about the proposed price of 2012-13. That price was higher than the present proposal,” Meghwal said at a press conference here.

He said the then Congress government was listening to middleman Sanjay Bhandari, a close associate of businessman Robert Vadra, instead of Indian Air Force’s continuous demand for high-end fighter aircraft.

“BJP government kicked out the middleman which has troubled the Congress,” Meghwal said. The Congress has previously rejected the allegations and said the BJP is “desperate” to divert attention.

The Union minister, however, said the Congress party failed to seal the Rafale deal between 2006 and 2013.

Meghwal claimed that the present government proposed to purchase the fighter aircraft at a much lower price compared to the rates fixed by then UPA government.

He also said that former defence minister A K Antony too had refused to disclose the price in some other matters in parliament citing security reasons. “Congress is just spreading lies and misleading public. The matter is in Supreme court and people will get to know about the lies of the Congress party,” he said.

Referring to communications between Dassault Aviation and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd during UPA government’s rule, Meghwal said the timeframe desired by Dassault Aviation to manufacture certain parts of the aircraft did not match with that of HAL and, therefore, there was a need to rope in offset partners.

The minister said Congress party’s lies would soon be exposed. “Congress has a disease of lying. Earlier, the party had moved a petition in Supreme Court that there were ‘fake voters’ in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and the court had rejected their plea as it was a lie,” he added.

Ambani’s Reliance Group has said dismissed allegations of corruption in the deal and accused the Congress of resorting to “blatant lies” for political gains.

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