On Wednesday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his blog on Facebook posed 15 questions to Congress President Rahul Gandhi on the Rafale aircraft deal. Jaitley replied to most of the allegations made by Rahul Gandhi and his party during the last several months. There can be no reply more clear and transparent than this.
It must be remembered that this is an Inter-Governmental Agreement, and both the countries are bound by the confidentiality clauses mentioned in the agreement. Had Mr Jaitely disclosed more details about the deal, the Congress leaders still have raised questions. Reason: Congress leaders are sniffing electoral advantage from this Rafale deal issue.
Rahul Gandhi did not reply to a single question posed by Jaitley. Rather, in order to obfuscate matters, he promptly demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee to go into the deal. He set a 24-hour deadline for Mr Jaitely. to respond, and the latter did, by pointing out at the JPC fiasco that took place during Rajiv Gandhi's regime when Bofors issue was the talk of the town.
Why did Rahul demand a JPC to probe Rafale deal? Reason: If the JPC is formed, ministers and bureaucrats will be summoned, and the Congress and other opposition parties can merrily go around the town raising an issue which has no legs to stand upon. The same allegations couldl be repeated ad nauseum. Congress leaders will then continue to demand that the government reveal the exact price at which the Rafale aircrafts were purchased. The Congress can then continue to allege that the government was trying to hide facts related to the deal.
On Wednesday, the Congress party responded to Jaitley's questions by alleging that ministers in the Modi government are reacting to issues that are not related to their ministries. The party said that the Defence Minister was the right person to reply to allegations.
The Congress has nothing else to say because it has simply no cogent reply to the questions raised by Jaitley. The party has no answer to Jaitley's question as to why the UPA government delayed the acquisition of Rafale aircraft by eleven years, thereby compromising national security considerations. The party has no answer to Jaitley's question as to why the negotiation on acquiring Rafale aircraft that was shortlisted in 2007, began five years later, in 2012. The Congress has no answer to Jaitley's assertion that the basic price at which NDA government acquired the Rafale aircraft was 20 per cent cheaper than what was approved by the UPA regime.
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