New Delhi: A day after Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa said that the Rafale deal is not overpriced and denied allegations that the Narendra Modi government had negotiated an overpriced deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday gave another blow to the Congress calling the allegations levelled by the opposition party "shameful" and a "disservice" to the armed forces.
"These allegations are shameful...The deal was finalised following a transparent procedure," Sitharaman told reporters.
The defence minister also attacked the Congress by blaming it for sitting for 10 years on plans to buy the fighter jets that the Indian Air Force needed.
She said the decision to strengthen the Air Force was taken by the Vajpayee government back in 2000 but the Congress-led coalition, the UPA, which came to power in 2004, could not seal the deal over the next decade.
"When we came back in power in 2014, the situation was grim... We had to move forward fast," she said, stressing that "not a single procedure was violated in procuring the jets".
Prime Minister Modi spoke to the French government during his April 2015 visit. The final agreement for 36 Rafale jets was signed in September 2016 after five rounds of lengthy discussions between India and France, and approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security, the defence minister said.
The Congress had alleged the government caused "insurmountable loss" of taxpayers' money by signing the deal worth Rs 58,000 crores and claimed that the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence Limited that demanded the Congress had been unfairly picked to be the French firm's Indian partner.
The Opposition also alleged that the cost of each aircraft is three times more than what the previous UPA had negotiated with France in 2012.
With inputs from PTI....