Union minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday claimed there was “not a grain of truth” in the latest set of allegations against the Rafale fighter deal and called them “unsubstantiated” and “fabricated facts”.
Jaitley was responding to a joint statement released by advocate Prashant Bhushan and former Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie earlier in the day, alleging that the Rafale defence deal had put national security at risk. They said the deal with France was a “major scandal” and “by far larger than ones that the country has had to contend with in the past”.
The allegations are “unsubstantiated” and “constitute nothing but reprocessed lies by forces increasingly desperate to prove their relevance”, he wrote in a Facebook post titled “The Rafale Falsehood Repeated”. He said that the government had already responded effectively to each and every “distortion and misinformation” on the issue.
Jaitley described it as “another attempt at maligning the government by spreading falsehood and paddling (sic) fabricated facts” regarding the 2016 Inter-Governmental Agreement for the procurement of the aircraft.
“It is even more reprehensible that this fresh attempt to tarnish the image of the government should come less than two weeks after the miserable failure of a similar effort in the Parliament,” he said. Jaitley had accused the Congress of “manufacturing a controversy” in the matter in another blog post last month.
On July 20, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Lok Sabha, claiming they had not been truthful about the deal with France. He asked the government why the contract was taken away from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and given to a businessman who is under a lot of debt, an apparent reference to Anil Ambani. The government later won a no-confidence vote brought against it by opposition members.
The Congress president also claimed that French President Emmanuel Macron had told him that there was no secrecy pact between the two countries about the deal. Following Gandhi’s speech, France issued a statement that said a 2008 agreement between Paris and New Delhi bound the two countries to protect classified documents and it applied to the Rafale deal.
“Meanwhile, those raising alarm about the alleged danger to national security ought to realise their responsibility and refrain from politicising for narrow individual ends those very matters pertaining to defence of the nation that were consistently ignored by them and by those with whom they sympathise,” Jaitley added in the post.