Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman answered questions from India TV Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma in "Aap Ki Adalat" Show on Saturday night. She opened up on a number of issues including Rafale deal, Indo-Pak relations, Indo-China relations as well as defence preparedness of Indian Army.
As it happened:
11:05 pm: The UPA government had given orders to HAL for manufacturing 40 LCAs (light combat aircraft) Tejas. Out of 40, only eight are being produced: Nirmala
10:59 pm: From 2004 to 2014, during UPA regime, the government used to give orders worth Rs 10,000 crore every year to HAL, our government has given orders worth Rs 22,000 crore every year to HAL: Nirmala
10:55 pm: The PM visited Paris in 2015, where a memorandum of interest was signed. There was no need for CCS approval for this. Only after the prices were finalized, the Inter-Governmental Agreement was signed in September 2016, and for this the final approval of CCS was taken in August that year: Nirmala
10:54 pm: During UPA rule, hardly two to three major weapons were acquired. After Manohar Parrikar and later Arun Jaitley took over, the acquisition process was made faster: Nirmala
10: 53 pm: Responding to allegation made by the Congress that the approval of Cabinet Committee on Security was not taken for the Rafale deal, Sitharaman said that it was a “white lie”
10:52 pm: Those countries which keep an evil eye on us will benefit. Do we have to do this? I am sorry that the president of the oldest political party sitting in the opposition is demanding this: Nirmala
10:50 pm: “For whom is he worried? By leaking information (about weapon systems fitted on Rafale aircraft), whom is he trying to help? By demanding replies from us, who will ultimately benefit? This is what I am seriously asking. Is it Pakistan, or China?: Nirmala
10: 48 pm: Only after the weapon systems, radars and sensors are fitted, the aircraft will be deemed as operationally prepared for war: Nirmala
10: 46 pm: Our point is that the 36 Rafale aircraft that we are purchasing is nine per cent cheaper. And, please note, the basic price includes only the bare minimum of an aircraft, the pilot seat and takeoff and landing instruments: Nirmala
10:44 pm: Had the UPA government then purchased these aircraft at that rate in 2012, then the first of the 18 flyaway aircraft would have come by 2015 or 2016. By then, 3 per cent cost escalation per year would have come into force, and by 2015-16 it would have gone up to Rs 738 crore per aircraft: Nirmala
10: 42 pm: The talks for purchasing Rafale fighter aircraft began in 2007 during UPA regime, and then they were put in cold storage for five years. In December, 2011 or January, 2012, it was announced that the basic price of each Rafale aircraft would be Rs 520 crore: Nirmala
10:40 pm: What can I say when Rahul says that we compromised national security by purchasing Rafale. What did they do by not purchasing the aircraft?
10:35 pm: We are very close to reaching “10i”, meaning capability for 10 days intensive war. During UPA rule, hardly two to three major weapons were acquired. After Manohar Parrikar and later Arun Jaitely took over, the acquisition process was made faster: Nirmala
10:32 pm: No change in status-quo at Doklam after 2017 face-off between Indian and Chinese armies: Nirmala
10:31 pm: However, no firing is taking place on China border:Nirmala Sitharaman
10:30 pm: Transgressions do take place at the Line of Actual Control. It is because much of the LAC is yet to be demarcated. It is because of perceptions that flashpoints do occur, but till date not a single shot has been fired: Nirmala Sitharaman
10: 29 pm: Problem with China is that the border from Ladakh to Arunachal is not clearly demarcated and therefore there are obvious flashpoints at Indo-China border: Nirmala Sitharaman
10:25 pm: We are full prepared for any eventuality at Pakistan border: Nirmala Sitharaman
10:24 pm: Pak ISI officials were not allowed to enter operational area when they were allowed to visit Pathankot air base after terror attacks: Nirmala
10: 22 pm: Replying to a question on what happened to assertions by BJP leaders that if it came to power, it “will get 10 heads in reply to two beheadings”, Sitharaman said. “kaat to rahe hain, display nahin kar rahen” (heads are being cut off, but are not being displayed)
10:21 pm: As far as dialogue with Pakistan is concerned, we are not thinking to that extent: Nirmala Sitharaman
10:19 pm: Answering a question on the possibility of political solution to Kashmir issue, defence minister said that it can be discussed only with elected representatives of the people. We are also taking many other initiatives including women empowerment, she added.
10:16 pm: Today, Pakistan is completely isolated in the world over the issue of terrorism: Nirmala Sitharaman
10:15 pm: When asked about government plans to regain control over Pak Occupied Kashmir, Nirmala Sitharaman said, "I wish I can say something specifically on it. But it is our desire, it is the desire of all countrymen."
10:14 pm: The army is on top, and in control of the situation at the Line of Control in Kashmir. We are giving a befitting reply, and not out of pride, but out of a sense of responsibility, I can say, we are capable, we are on top and in control: Nirmala Sitharaman
10:12 pm: We taught a lesson to Pakistan in 2016 when India Army carried out surgical strikes
10:10 pm: MEA and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj have made it very clear that there will be no talks with Pakistan as long as they continue to support terrorism: Nirmala Sitharaman
10:05 pm: We are going to celebrate second anniversary of 2016 surgical strikes. We are retaliating to ceasefire violations with full force at the border with Pakistan: Nirmala Sitharaman
10:00 pm: Nirmala Sitharaman arrives in Aap Ki Adalat