Congress to move privilege motion on Rafale against PM & RM

Congress on Monday let it be known that it would move a breach of privilege motion against the Prime Minister and the Raksha Mantri for misleading the Lok Sabha on the Rafale deal

PTI Photo
PTI Photo
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NH Web Desk

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Raksha Mantri Nirmala Sitharaman misled the House on the Rafale deal and held back information from Parliament, accused Congress on Monday. Party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told the media that a privilege motion was likely to be moved in the House by the party.

During the debate on the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had accused the Government of paying too high a price for the Rafale jets and not taking Parliament into confidence. He had then posed three questions to the PM:

  • Did the Prime Minister seek and obtain the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security before junking the Rafale deal signed in 2008 and inked a fresh deal in 2016 ?
  • Why did the PM unilaterally dropped the clause on technology transfer and deprived a public sector undertaking, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited of the opportunity to assemble the plane in India ?
  • Why did the Prime Minister ensured participation in the deal to a crony capitalist (Reliance Defence) who had no experience in the field and helped him with a potential windfall gain of ₹45,000 Crore ?
The Prime Minister too in his reply refused to answer the questions or address the issue. Instead, he ridiculed the allegedly ill-informed and ‘childish’ allegations,which, he maintained, had made India a laughing stock in the world.

The Congress President’s remarks were stoutly opposed by Raksha Mantri Nirmala Sitharaman, who produced documents of the 2008 deal to claim that because of a clause on ‘secrecy, the Government was not in a position to disclose details and that the Congress President’s allegations were baseless.

The Prime Minister too in his reply refused to answer the questions or address the issue. Instead, he ridiculed the allegedly ill-informed and ‘childish’ allegations, which, he maintained, had made India a laughing stock in the world.

On Monday former union ministers AK Antony and Anand Sharma told newsmen that there was no constraint on the Government on disclosing the price it paid for Rafale. The former Raksha Mantri AK Antony said that he himself had informed Parliament of prices of defence procurement.

Anand Sharma recalled that the present Raksha Mantri herself had told the media that she would disclose the details at a press conference in Novembe, 2016. Clearly, he said, Nirmala Sitharaman was either ignorant of the secrecy clause or knew very well that there was no such clause in the agreement. She had in fact directed the Defence Secretary to furnish the information to the media.

The secrecy clause was invented later, he maintained.

The French President too in his interview to India Today had said that the Indian Government was at liberty to inform Parliament about the price. But the Raksha Mantri read out selectively from the interview to claim that operational details were expected to remain secret.

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