The Congress on Sunday attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party for the Rafale jet deal and claimed Defence Minster Nirmala Sitharaman’s comments about “corporate warfare” proved that the Narendra Modi-led government had given preference to corporate interests over national interest, PTI reported.

Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi claimed the Modi government’s “mantra” was to put corporate interests over national interest and that Sitharaman’s remarks had “conclusively proved that this is a government of the suited-booted, for the suited-booted and by the suited-booted”.

Sitharaman on Saturday had accused the Opposition of spreading misinformation about the deal and inquired if it had become a pawn in a corporate rivalry. She had also accused the Opposition of doing a “disservice” to the nation by misinforming the public.

“By bringing this argument about ‘corporate warfare’, the Modi government’s ‘defenceless’ defence minister seals and stamps the Congress party’s charge that the Rs 30,000 crore offset contract and Rs 1 lakh crore life cycle cost contract in the Rafale deal was given to his crony friend’s company, which had zero experience and was brazen ‘cronyism’ at its best,” claimed Chaturvedi.

The Congress spokesperson sought an explanation from the government over why it rejected the Indian Air Force’s demand for 126 fighter aircraft and decide to buy only 36 jets. She also criticised Sitharaman for her reply during the debate in Lok Sabha on the Rafale deal. Chaturvedi alleged that while the minister had said she cannot divulge the offset partners in the deal, the French defence minister had met Sitharaman in October 2017 and visited Nagpur to attend the foundation-laying ceremony of Dassault-Reliance JV with her Cabinet colleagues.

“Why did she lie to the Parliament?” asked Chaturvedi, claiming that Sitharaman’s latest remarks were as “fallacious” as her reply in the Lok Sabha. “What brief is she holding and to guard which ‘corporate entity’?”

Last week, the Defence Ministry had dubbed as “factually inaccurate” a report in The Hindu claiming that the government’s decision to buy 36 Rafale jets instead of 126 as negotiated by the previous government had increased the price of each aircraft by 41%.