Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Thursday said that people do not doubt Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intentions about the Rafale deal. Pawar, whose party is an ally of the Congress, added that the Opposition’s demand that the Centre share technical details about the fighter aircraft deal “makes no sense”, PTI reported.
However, Pawar said that there is no harm in disclosing the price of the aircraft. In an interview to a Marathi news channel, the Nationalist Congress Party chief claimed that the way Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the government’s case created doubt in people’s minds. “Now, [Finance Minister Arun] Jaitley can be seen articulating the government’s stand on the matter instead of Sitharaman.”
The Congress has claimed that the government kept out state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited from the offset contract with French firm Dassault Aviation in order to benefit businessman Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence, which eventually signed the agreement. The Opposition party’s claims were bolstered by former French President Francois Hollande’s assertion earlier this month that the Indian government proposed Reliance’s name for the offset contract. The party has also demanded that the government reveal the price of the jets.
Pawar’s comments on Thursday drew praise from Bharatiya Janata Party National President Amit Shah. “I thank Sharad Pawar ji, a former defence minister and veteran MP, for placing national interests above party politics and speaking the truth,” Shah tweeted. “Dear [Congress President] Rahul Gandhi, you would be wiser by believing your own ally and a leader of Pawar Saheb’s stature.”