Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday hit back at the Congress over the Rafale deal, accusing it of “seriously compromising” country’s security by seeking details of armaments purchased along with the aircraft.
He also advised Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to “learn” from former defence minister Pranab Mukherjee “lessons on national security.”
“Your party was stigmatised when you were in government because of allegation of corruption. Now the new act is, let us manufacture an allegation of corruption against the National Democratic Alliance. So when you couldn’t find anything, you said please disclose the price of the Rafale deal,” Jaitley said while replying to the debate on the budget.
“I charge the Congress of seriously compromising India’s security...Mr Modi has run a clean government for last four years, so let us manufacturer a crisis, let us manufacture an issue.
“And the manufactured issue is, please tell me the details of the Rafale deal,” the finance minister said in the Lok Sabha referring to the demands by the Congress to make public details of the government-to-government deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.
Defending the government’s decision against making the break-up of the nearly Rs 58,000 crore deal public, Jaitley said when the United Progressive Alliance was in power, then defence ministers Pranab Mukherjee and A K Antony had on 15 occasions told Parliament that giving out such details would be against the interest of national security.
He said one of the questions then related to missiles being procured from Israel.
He said the Congress president should go to Mukherjee and “get lessons on national security.”
Rahul has been targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the 2016 deal to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets. “What is the price that the prime minister has spent on Rafale,” Gandhi had asked on Tuesday.
Jaitley said security pacts were inherent part of defence transactions “because when you disclose the details of the price, you can give an approximate price, but when you give those specific details, you are giving details of the weapon system that you possess, and the capacity of the weapon systems which you don’t want to inform the enemy.”
Shashi Tharoor of the Congress told Jaitley that his party was not seeking details to compromise national security but only demanding transparency.
Saugata Roy of the TMC and some Congress members demanded that Rahul be allowed to speak as Jaitley had referred to him in his speech.
But Speaker Sumitra Mahajasn said till the time the finance minister does not yield, she cannot allow the Congress leader to speak.
Amid acrimony between Congress and BJP members, Jaitley said the opposition had raised the issues it wanted and now he should be allowed to complete his speech.