Nirmala Sitharaman: IAF procurement was weakest under the UPA regime

DN Bureau

Following a heated discussion in the Lok Sabha over the controversial Rafale fighter jets deal, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday slammed the opposition Congress for not doing enough towards strengthening the national security and added that "the IAF procurement was weakest under the UPA regime."

Nirmala Sitharaman
Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi: Following a heated discussion in the Lok Sabha over the controversial Rafale fighter jets deal, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday slammed the opposition Congress for not doing enough towards strengthening the national security and added that "the IAF procurement was weakest under the UPA regime."

Speaking in the Lower House, the Defence Minister said, "If national security and the sense of urgency was there, why didn't you (Congress) bring aircraft to India? The IAF procurement was weakest under the UPA regime. China and Pakistan are building a bigger fleet. The UPA government wanted only 18 flyaway fighter jets. UPA created a deadlock."

"We (Central Government) don't do defence dealings. We deal in defence with national security as a priority," she added.

The Union Minister also informed the House that the first Rafale aircraft will be delivered to India in September 2019 and 36 aircraft will be delivered in the year 2022.

"The process of negotiation was finished in 14 months", she added.

The Rafale jet deal controversy has been on the boil over the last few months. The Congress and other opposition parties have been alleging irregularities in the high-profile deal. The fighter jet is a twin-engine Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft, which security analysts believe can be a 'game-changer' for India's defence system.

However, the Supreme Court on December 14 gave the Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government at the Centre a clean chit on the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France's Dassault Aviation.

In its judgment, the court stated that there is "no occasion to really doubt the process", delivering a major victory to the government and lending a setback to the  Congress which has been alleging corruption in the agreement. (ANI)

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