Why is government silent on Rafale jet fighter price, asks Rahul Gandhi

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Amethi : Continuing his attack on the Rafale deal, Congress President on Tuesday questioned the government's silence on the demand for disclosing the price of the fighter jets being bought from France.

"We have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Defence Minister what is the price of the aircraft. The Defence Minister says she will not let the youth of Hindustan know the price. The Defence Minister told us that there is a secret pact between India and France (not to disclose the price)," he told reporters on the second day of his visit to his constituency.

He said he raked up the issue with visiting French President Emmanuel Macron and asked him if there was a secrecy pact between the two governments not to disclose the details.

"Again they (Indian government) tell us that we cannot reveal the price of the Rafale aircraft but Macron told me there is nothing as such. If the Indian government wants to reveal the price of the Rafale aircraft, they can," the Congress chief said.

"First, the question is why did the Defence Minister lie? Then suddenly you get the price of the aircraft Rs 526 crore versus Rs 1,600 crore. Even other countries have bought Rafale aircraft but not for Rs 1,600 crore," he said.

Referring to the offset agreement between French manufacturer Dassault and an Indian private firm, Gandhi said for 70 years HAL has been making aircraft while the private firm had not made any aircraft.

Making a reference to the deal signed between the two governments headed by Modi and former French President Francois Hollande, he said (French) journalists had asked Hollande as to who gave the deal to the private firm -- whether it was Modi, the French government or Dassault.

"Hollande told them... No. The decision was taken by Prime Minister Modi. This is the truth," Gandhi said.

"He (Modi) always says that he wants to be the 'chowkidar' of the nation, not the Prime Minister. But he has given away the money belonging to the people of the country to a private firm."

Gandhi said when he raised questions on these issues in the Lok Sabha, there was no answer from Modi. "This is the truth and ... more will come out on Rafale."