News18 has reported Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar as saying, “Tell the price of Rafale. I did not support PM Narendra Modi and won't do that. The price of Rafale was ₹650 crore and PM Modi bought it for ₹1,600 crore. Appoint a JPC and give documents.” Pawar, said News18, was speaking at a rally in Beed, Maharashtra.
In an interview to a Marathi television channel last week, Pawar had said that people knew Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intentions on the Rafale fighter jet aircraft deal were not wrong.
The Congress party, an ally of Pawar’s NCP, has been raising questions on why the price of the Rafale fighter jets fixed by the former Congress-led UPA Government, increased manifold when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the deal afresh in April, 2015. Congress has demanded a Joint Parliamentary probe into the issue of the increase in price and other aspects of the deal, including how a private player Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence bagged the offset contract worth ₹30,000 crores for the deal, at the expense of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
After Pawar’s comments, which brought heavy criticism from Opposition politicians, senior NCP leader Tariq Anwar quit the party and his Lok Sabha seat. Subsequently, senior NCP leaders including Praful Patel and Supriya Sule had tried to defend Pawar, however the controversy refused to die down, and even led to speculation that the Congress and NCP may not contest elections together with the statement from Pawar suggesting a cosying up to PM Modi’s BJP.
However, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "Pawarji has clearly said that convey from my side that all these things are false and baseless. Pawarji has said that it was a conspiracy by the BJP to create differences between the two parties," said Surjewala.
Pawar’s statement today in Beed would seek to put a lid on the controversy and make clear NCP’s stand on probe into the controversial Rafale deal