After the government of India’s stand on the Rafale deal was vindicated by the Supreme Court of India which dismissed all petitions against the deal, finance minister Arun Jaitley addressed the media on the issue. Attacking the critics of the deal, he said that Falsehood has a very short life. And in this case of allegations against the Rafale deal, its life was just a few months. He also said that “falsehood lowers the credibility of its creator”.
Arun Jaitley noted that the Rafale deal is being attacked not only by politicians, but also by people with ‘conflict of interest’. He said that Some people with ‘conflict of interest’ were also commenting on the Rafale deal, hinting that there may be more than just political motives in making allegations against the deal.
Mentioning that the process to buy fighter jets was started by UPA government but it was never concluded, the finance minister said that somebody has to answer why the deal was virtually abandoned during the Congress government tenure in 2012. He said that fiction was created to attack the deal, which amounted to compromise on national security. He asked, “the entire imaginary thought process, was that a fiction writing to compromise national security?”
The finance minister said that the government made sure that both national security and commercial security of India are protected in the deal. He also said that the allegation of NDA government buying the Rafale jet for ₹1600 crore versus ₹500 crore fixed during the UPA government has no basis, and it is just a work of fiction. He said that those who manufactured these falsehoods have hurt the national interests.
After that all the allegations against the government in the Rafale deal has been proven as false by the supreme court, Arun Jaitley asked for a public apology from those who made the allegations. He said that in democracies there’s a convention that if public figures spread falsehoods, they must resign. In many countries, Presidents have faced impeachment when caught lying or people have resigned from their posts if proved they lied. He called for an apology from Rahul Gandhi in the parliament.
When asked about why different percentages of discount earned in the Rafale deal is being circulated, the finance minister said that all of them are correct, in different contexts. He said that for the price of bare aircraft without any weapon, the discount is 9%. But when the price of fully weaponised aircraft is taken, the discount is 20%.
He said that “all the figures by the govt are correct and all the figures by Mr Rahul Gandhi are false and I have justified it. The truth has only one version and falsehood has many. That is why Mr Rahul Gandhi quoted several figures”.
When asked about the demand for a JPC probe on the deal, Jaitley said, “We can’t rely on Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) because people are divided on party lines. So, in such cases, we have to rely on judicial processes”.
Implying that no amount of clarification will satisfy Rahul Gandhi, Arun Jaitley said “deaf will never get an answer, they will never hear it”.
Answering the question on basis for purchasing 36 aircraft instead of 126 as per the original deal, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that as the original deal was cancelled due to differences over manufacture of the fighter in India, government decided to purchase two squadrons of Rafale jet, instead of one squadron as per the original deal. It was done as an urgent measure as IAF desperately needs new fighter jets. The minister clarified that 36 is not just a random number, it amounts to two squadrons of fighter jets.