Rahul Gandhi rakes up Rafale procurement at Defence panel meet, asked to stick to agenda

Rahul Gandhi asked whether the scaling down of the purchase will affect the Air Force’s plans to expand its combat capability. (PTI)

The ghost of Rafale has returned with Wayanad MP and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi raking up the issue at a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence yesterday. Despite Congress making the Rafale deal as one of the key poll planks in 2019 and failing to cash on it, Gandhi is not willing to let go of the issue easily.

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While Congress and the BJP government are at loggerheads over the disengagement of Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh, Gandhi is learnt to have taken up the issue with Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat. According to The Indian Express, Rahul asked Gen Rawat about the reasons behind scaling down the Rafale jets procurement proposal from the earlier 126 to 36.

He asked whether the scaling down of the purchase will affect the Air Force’s plans to expand its combat capability in wake of the two-side threat posed to the country from Pakistan and China.

Gen Rawat reportedly answered the question by saying that the Air Force is procuring indigenous fighter jets from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.

Rahul raised the matter during oral evidence by the Ministry of Defence on the budgetary allocation and the expenditure of the ministry.

Jual Oram, who was heading the panel, is then learnt to have asked Gandhi to stick to the agenda and not raise issues which are not a part of it.

According to the report, BSP MP Kunwar Danish Ali also backed Gandhi saying that members should be allowed to pose questions. Kunwar Danish Ali also contested Gen Rawat’s remark. He questioned that if the Air Force is relying on HAL for fighter jets, then why was the PSU was overlooked during the Rafale deal.

The Congress had alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal. Rahul Gandhi had claimed that PM Narendra Modi had sold the Indian Air Force and had claimed that the benefit was given to Anil Ambani.

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