A day after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told Parliament that the government will not be able to divulge certain details of Rafale fighter jet deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said "this only means there is a scam."
Sitharaman had on Monday said details, such as the per unit cost of the Rafale twin-engine fighter jet, cannot be revealed because of an agreement between the governments of India and France.
Rahul, in a tweet, asked if those asking for details of the deal would be branded "Anti-National."
Top Secret— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) February 6, 2018
(Not for Distribution)
RM says the price negotiated for each RAFALE jet by the PM and his "reliable" buddy is a state secret.
1.Informing Parliament about the price is a national security threat
2.Brand all who ask, Anti National#TheGreatRafaleMystery
Later, he spoke to the media outside Parliament and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of changing the deal.
"The Defence Minister says that we will not reveal the amount paid for buying Rafael aircrafts. What does this mean? This only means there is a scam. Modi ji personally went to Paris, he changed the deal. The whole country knows it," Rahul said.
Congress party's Rajya Sabha MP MV Rajeev Gowda, in a written question to Sitharaman, had asked about certain details about the deal. He had asked whether Dassault was penalised for refusing to fulfil its contractual obligations under the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft Request (MMRCA) deal.
To this, the Defence Minister replied saying, "There was no contract with Dassault for medium multi-role combat aircraft."
Gowda asked the minister the "the cost per aircraft under the Inter-Governmental Agreement for 36 Rafale aircraft".
To this, the Defence Minister said, "As per 'Article-10' of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between Government of India and Government of France on the purchase of Rafale aircraft, the protection of the classified information and material exchanged under IGA is governed by the provisions of the Security Agreement signed between the two nations in 2008."
According to reports, the Rafale deal courted controversy after the Congress raised allegations that it was overpriced and that Reliance Defence, owned by Anil Ambani, was favoured by the government. These allegations have been strongly denied by both the BJP and Reliance Defence.
India is due to get 36 Rafale jets by the end of 2019.