Defence min rejects US magazine report on F16 aircraft

Last Updated 06 April 2019, 16:38 IST

Defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday rejected the report of a US Foreign Policy magazine said that the report is "baseless" and she "heard" that "US govt agencies too have denied such report."

She was referring to the report which said that all F-16 aircraft given to Pakistan by America are intact. The report contradicts Indian Air Force's claim that they shot down F-16 aircraft of Pakistan during an aerial fight in February followed India's airstrike in Pakistan's Balakot.

"Is information ka koi adhaar nahi hai. Maine suna hai ki US govt ne ise reject kar diya hai. (this information has not basis. I have heard the US govt has denied it)," Sitharaman said while answering a question in Ahmedabad at an event. The event was organised by BJP for "intellectual citizens." She said said that 'It is sad that Congress is asking for proof of airstrike and questioning our army. What can we do when our own citizen asks for these kinds of questions."

She told the gathering, comprising of doctors, engineers, lawyers, chartered accountants among others, that "despite the surgical and airstrike not a single country criticised India. Do you know the reason? It was possible only because of Modiji's foreign policy. I want to tell you that Modiji during his foreign visits exposed Pakistan and successfully isolated this country. But Congress kept questioning his foreign visits."

When she was asked about Congress's Nyuntam Aay Yojana (Nyay), that promises to give Rs72,000 annually to families who are below poverty line, Sitharaman answered, "The Congress is going to tax the middle class to fund the poor. Giving money to the poor is good but is taxing middle class equally good," she questioned. She claimed "Modi govt has been giving the poor more than what Congress has promised."

Sitharaman also defended her government over allegation of corruption in Rafale deal. She said that "if Congress has any proof that the prime minister gave Rs30,000 crore to anyone, please show me one such paper." When an audience asked her five achievements of her government in five years, said "there are many. If you ask specific I will give you all the details." She did mention about health scheme of the government.

Sitharaman stated her brief speech to point out how "reforms done by Modi government is not glamorous. These are structural reforms which didn't happen in last 20 to 25 years." She told the gathering that being "intellectuals" they should help making opinions and pass it on to others.

She said that "people should compare the situation between 2014 and 2019. When we were in opposition, we questioned the government for its corruption. Now you see the role of Narendra Modi and Congress. You think about clear and decisive leadership of Modi and what does opposition have."

(Published 06 April 2019, 16:38 IST)

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