'Modi helped Dassault make huge money over Rafale deal'

'Modi helped Dassault make huge money over Rafale deal'

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram. (PTI Photo)PTI12_21_2018_000013B)

The Congress on Friday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing him of helping Dassault make windfall gains through the re-negotiated Rafale fighter jet deal.

Addressing a press conference here, former finance minister P Chidambaram accused Modi of compromising national security by denying the Indian Air Force the seven squadrons of medium multi-role combat aircraft and ordering only two squadrons instead.

Chidambaram also expressed surprise over how the Modi government had overruled the objections raised by three senior Defence Ministry officials over the price of the Rafale aircraft.

Chidambaram's press conference came against the backdrop of a media report claiming that Modi's decision to buy 36 Rafale aircraft instead of the 126 sought by the Air Force had led to price escalation of each aircraft by 41.42%.

“Dassault is laughing all the way to the bank. The government has wronged the country in two ways – compromised national security by denying the IAF 90 aircraft they desperately need and cost the public money 25 million euro more per aircraft that is equal to Rs 186 crore more per aircraft,” he said.

The former finance minister said the Modi government had hoped to give a quiet burial to the controversy over the Rafale deal by citing the Supreme Court verdict.

“The controversy is very much alive and this morning it acquired a new dimension,” he said.

The BJP hit back at the Congress and accused it of running a “malicious campaign” against the Modi government on the Rafale deal.

Rejecting the Congress charges against the government, BJP leader and Union minister Smriti Irani said that cited the Supreme Court verdict on Rafale deal and contended that that issue was settled.

Chidambaram reiterated the demand for an investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee into the Rafale deal.

Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia also took to Twitter to demand answers from Modi on the increased cost of aircraft.

“The PM's unilateral decision to buy 36 Rafales resulted in a price escalation of 41.42% per jet. When will the prime minister answer,” Scindia asked.

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