The defense minister said that the first Rafale aircraft will be delivered in September 2019 while the 36th aircraft will be delivered in 2022, according to the agreement.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tore into the Congress' attack on the government regarding the Rafale issue in Parliament on January 4, accusing the party of shedding crocodile tears for Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) while it could not add a single aircraft during its 10-year tenure.
"There is an HAL unit in Amethi, led by senior MP Mallikarjun… but Rahul Gandhi stands opposite HAL unit in Bengaluru and says Rafale is your right," Sitharaman said, adding that the first Rafale aircraft will be delivered in September 2019 while the 36th aircraft will be delivered in 2022, according to the agreement.
"The delivery of 36th aircraft was advanced by five months... the process did not run for 10 years," Sitharaman said in a jibe at Congress.
"On 6th February 2014, the then Raksha Mantri said we cannot buy (the aircraft), and asked where is the money? I want to ask... what money? Which money? I want to ask because the Raksha Mantri prepares a detailed schedule… as to how the payments should be made as to how the agreement is signed," Sitharaman said, adding that the Congress did not intend to buy the aircraft "until something else was done".
"The deal did not suit you... the deal did not give you money. When I raised this question, I raise it because the Congress party should now stand not to ask questions, but to reply to what I am asking," Sitharaman said.
"There is a difference between defence dealings and dealing in defence. We deal with national security as a priority and we deal in defence," Sitharaman said, adding that for the Congress, treasury security was a priority, not national security."I allege, even as I am answering each one of their questions, and I charge that they did not intend on buying (the aircraft). They kept the process going. Their treasury security was more important than national security," the defence minister said.