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As Rafale fighter jets touch down in Ambala, the nation remembers Manohar Parrikar for inking the momentous defence deal

On Septemeber 23, 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) was signed between then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart for the acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft

The wait for the ‘game-changing’ next generation of fighter jets is over as the first batch of five Rafale fighter jets landed at the Ambala airbase on Wednesday, two days after they flew out of France for India. 

Excitement ran high among netizens as social media was awash with images and videos of Rafale fighter jets entering the Indian airspace and their landing at the airbase. 

However, while social media users celebrated the homecoming of the new aircraft, many users, along with several prominent BJP leaders, also remembered the former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, for his instrumental role in fortifying India’s Air Forces with the procurement of Rafale fighter jets. 

Goa chief minister Dr Pramod Sawant quoted a tweet posted by the former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar about the signing of the Rafale Deal with his French counterpart.

Union Minister Smriti Irani also posted a tweet remembering the former Goa chief minister. “Remembering Bhai today,” Irani tweeted while quoting Parrikar’s tweet announcing the historic deal.

Siddharth Shirole, BJP MLA from Shivajinagar in Pune, also quoted the old tweet by Manohar Parrikar on the monumental occasion of the delivery of Rafale fighter jets. 

In addition to politicians, other social media users also joined in to reminisce about Manohar Parrikar and his invaluable contribution towards securing the French-built jets.

Manohar Parrikar signed the momentous Rafale Deal

It was under Manohar Parrikar as the Defence Minister of India that the country signed the historic deal of procuring 36 next-generation Rafale fighter jets to bolster the Indian Air Force’s airpower and aerial supremacy in the Southeast Asia region. On Septemeber 23, 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) was signed between then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart for the acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft, which would serve to improve India’s defence and strike capabilities.

However, unfortunately, Manohar Parrikar is not alive to witness the homecoming of fighter aircraft that he signed the deal for. The former defence minister was ailing from pancreatic cancer and died on March 17, 2019, at his residence in Panaji.

Rahul Gandhi used visit to ailing Manohar Parrikar to cast allegations of corruption in Rafale deal against PM Modi

It is pertinent to note that former Congress president Rahul Gandhi had based his entire 2019 General election campaign on the alleged corruption in the Rafale deal. Gandhi had tried to hurl the charges of corruption against PM Modi, in a desperate bid to show the Modi government as corrupt and thereby cast a dent in its legitimacy and popularity among the masses.

In fact, Rahul Gandhi stooped so low that a customary visit by him to check on the health of ailing of Manohar Parrikar was used to score political brownie points with regards to the Rafale deal. Following his visit, Gandhi claimed that the former Defence Minister told him that he had nothing to do with the Rafale deal. Parrikar, who was suffering from the last stage of cancer, shot back at Rahul Gandhi, saying that he was misusing the five minutes that Gandhi spent with him on.

In a letter addressed to Rahul Gandhi, Parrikar wrote, “I feel let down that you have used this visit for your petty political gains. In the 5 minutes you spent with me, neither did you mention anything about Rafale, now did we discuss anything related to it.”

It is also worth noting that the Supreme Court of India rejected the baseless allegations levelled by Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party and declared that no irregularities or corruption have been found in the case.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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