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Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday hit out at defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman over the Rafale deal and said that it was shameful that her boss was silencing her. She alleged that the indecision of the previous UPA governments to procure the combat jets "potentially compromised" national security interests.

Addressing a press conference on Friday, Sitharaman had said that the deal was finalised by following a 'transparent procedure.' She had asserted that the urgent requirement of the Indian Air Force was the reason why the deal was sealed.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) said that there was "no overpricing" in the Rafale purchase as the government had "negotiated a very good" deal for the French fighter aircraft.

The Congress had accused Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of "misleading" the nation on the Rafale fighter aircraft deal by not making public the price of the aircraft, and alleged a "cover-up".

But Sitharaman, despite repeated and pointed questions, did not provide the "comparative costs per aircraft" between the 36-fighter contract inked by the NDA government in September 2016 and the original 126-fighter deal under negotiation during the UPA government's tenure. She also claimed that no private party is involved in the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircrafts. "Why don't you question the PM who changed the entire Rafale deal to help a businessman?"

"Yes, the French Defence Minister raised the matter with me, but I haven't given any answer", she said.

"When we came back in power in 2014, the situation was grim".

Minister and the IAF Chief statements come after the Congress vice president asked the media to raise questions about the Rafale deal and on BJP chief Amit Shah's son Jay's income from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He asked her whether PM Modi had taken permission from the Cabinet Committee on Security before announcing the purchase of the Rafale fighter aircraft in Paris. The delivery of the jets is scheduled to begin from September, 2019.


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