New Delhi: The Congress Monday said they would bring a privilege motion against Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for allegedly misleading the Lok Sabha on details of the Rafale fighter jet deal.
“There is nothing in the defence agreement that doesn’t allow the government to reveal the price,” said former Defence Minister A.K. Antony addressing a joint press conference along with senior party leaders Anand Sharma and Randeep Surjewala.
Accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sitharaman of misleading Parliament and the country on the Rafale pricing issue, they said there is no clause in the 2008 pact between India and France that prevents the government from divulging price details of the aircraft. The Congress claimed that the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister had sought to “lie” on the floor of Parliament.
The three leaders, who addressed a press conference, also accused Modi and Sitharaman of “deluding and misleading” the people of India.
Antony said the government’s claim that a secrecy clause in the pact was forcing it to not reveal price details of the deal was “totally wrong”.
They have to reveal price details of each aircraft, said Antony, adding that the more they are trying to hide, the more suspicion there is about the deal.
He also said the government cannot hide the price details of the Rafale jets as the deal has to be scrutinised by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) as well as Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
“They must reveal the price details of the aircraft and they must also tell us why a company was selected as offset partner who has no experience manufacturing aircraft,” said Antony, alleging the private player has benefited by crores.
His colleague Anand Sharma said the government owes Parliament an explanation on why Modi and Sitharaman “misled” the nation on the price issue.
“The French government had no objection in revealing the price of the Rafale aircraft. This was conveyed by the French President to Rahul Gandhi during a meeting in which I was present along with the former Prime Minister,” he said.