New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday accused Congress of "peddling untruth" on the Rafale aircraft deal, saying the "false campaign" by the opposition party and its leader Rahul Gandhi was seriously compromising national security.
In a Facebook blog, the finance minister posted a set of 15 questions to Rahul Gandhi and said the deal NDA government had entered into with France on April 10, 2015 for purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets was on "better" terms than the one agreed to by the UPA government in 2007.
"I am asking these questions as his misadventure is impairing national interest and I hope Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party would respond immediately," he wrote.
"Congress party's false campaign launched on Rafale aircraft deal based on peddled untruth has been casting a cloud on the Inter-Governmental agreement & seriously compromising national security," he said.
The Congress has been attacking the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government over the Rafale deal, citing several instances of alleged wrongdoings, from selection of a private firm and cost overruns to lack of transparency in releasing finer details of the deal.
"This (allegations on Rafale deal) is like a kindergarten or primary school debate. 'Well, I was paying 500 something and you've paid 1,600 something'. That's the argument being given; it shows how little understanding Rahul Gandhi has," Arun Jaitley told news agency ANI.
"Every single word in the Congress's allegation is factually false," Jaitley added.
The finance minister said it was expected from national political parties and their responsible leaders to keep themselves informed of the basic facts before they enter a public discourse on defence transactions.
Jaitley said Congress and Rahul Gandhi were guilty on three counts - delaying the deal by over a decade comprising national security, speaking of falsehood on pricing and procedure, and further delaying the defence procurement by raising these issues. "Needless to say that I am constrained by the secrecy clause which exists in the contract and whatever I ask or respond to would be constrained by that limitation," he said.
The finance minister said Rahul Gandhi had in Jaipur used two figures – Rs 520 crore and Rs 540 crore as the cost of each fighter jet.
"Rahul Gandhi quoted a price of Rs 700 crore per aircraft in Delhi and Karnataka in April and May this year. In Parliament, he reduced it to Rs 520 crore per aircraft, in Raipur he increased it to Rs 540 crore," he said.
"In Hyderabad, he invented a new price of Rs 526 crore. Truth has only one version, falsehood has many. Are these allegations being made without any familiarity with the facts of the Rafale purchase?" he asked.
Arun Jaitley also reminded Rahul Gandhi it was the government led by his party that first initiated the deal back in 2007.
"Not only did Congress get a bad deal, they compromised national security by abandoning it due to policy paralysis," said the finance minister, adding he wants Rahul Gandhi to answer all the points he has raised.
"The Congress is known for scandals in defence deals... they also sat for decades without being able to sign any agreement to enhance India's fleet of aircraft... They were willing to buy 100 per cent foreign-made aircraft and never promote private manufacturing in India," said Arun Jaitley.
— ANI (@ANI) August 29, 2018