Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

NDA got Rafale jets at 9% cheaper rate than UPA deal: Sitharaman

Senior Congress leader A K Antony said if the aircraft purchased by the NDA were cheaper, the government should have bought more than 126

New Delhi: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the NDA government was getting the Rafale fighter jets at a rate 9% cheaper than what the UPA had agreed upon.

Talking to reporters, she also said it would be a “good fight" in the 2019 Lok Sabha election and exuded confidence that the BJP would come back to power. Responding to questions on the Congress’s allegations against the government over the Rafale deal, the minister said: “We have responded saying your basic price and the basic price that I am getting at, when compared with all the escalation and other things, is 9% cheaper."

Earlier on Tuesday, former defence minister and senior Congress leader A K Antony questioned the Modi government, saying if the fighter aircraft purchased by them were cheaper, why did the government not buy more than 126. Antony said Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recently claimed that in the new agreement the aircraft was 9% cheaper than the UPA deal, the finance minister said it was 20% cheaper, while an officer of the IAF also said it was 40% cheaper, then “Why did they not buy more than 126 if it was cheaper?" he told reporters.

The UPA government started negotiating in 2012 with French firm Dassault Aviation to buy 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). The plan was for Dassault Aviation to supply 18 Rafale jets in fly-away condition, while 108 aircraft were to be manufactured in India by the company along with HAL. However, the deal could not be sealed.

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