Modi government must come clean on defence deals: Congress

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New Delhi : The Congress on Wednesday demanded that the Narendra Modi-led government clear its "doublespeak" on its defence deals and asked why it did not apply the same principle in the Rafale deal with France as it did with the AK-103 assault rifles deal with Russia.

It said the government had turned down the Russian proposal to make a private Indian entity its partner for the joint manufacture.

The party said the "trigger of Modi government's AK-47 deal with Russia has backfired for the Rafale 'scam' and made it more murkier".

"A fallacious argument of the Modi government on the Rafale scam has been nipped in the bud, by its own recent negotiations in another defence deal, which is the AK-rifle deal with Russia," said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

"That the Rafale deal was a government-to-government agreement and the Modi government had absolutely no role in facilitating the Rs 30,000 crore offset contract," he added.

Citing media reports, Singhvi said it has been revealed that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has reportedly turned down a Russian request to make another private Indian entity (Adani Group) its partner for the joint manufacture of Rs 3,000 crore worth of AK-103 assault rifles for the Indian Army.

"Modi government has reportedly advised Russia that its firm Kalashnikov Concern should tie up with the state-run Ordnance Factory Board if it wants its proposal to manufacture the AK-103 assault rifles in India to be considered by the Defence Ministry," said Singhvi.

"Why did it not apply the same principle in the Rafale deal? Why did the government not advise Dassault Aviation to negotiate further with government-run HAL?" asked Singhvi.

He added: "It has also been revealed that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) reportedly shot down Kalashnikov Concern's proposal for a joint venture with the private Indian entity - which has recently entered the defence sector, to produce the 7.62x39 mm calibre AK-103 gun, which are a derivative of the iconic AK-47 rifle."

The party said the MoD last month said that if the Russians wanted to partner with a private Indian entity, they must come through the 'tender route'.

"Since the government has virtually given up 'Make in India' in defence, by only getting an investment of Rs 1 crore till now, it is imperative for them to clear the air on the same. The nation is waiting for a clear answer on this doublespeak," Singhvi said.