Rahul Gandhi’s Rafale uproar gets French reply


July 21, 2018

Responding to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s claim that the French President denied any secrecy clause in the Rafale jet deal, the French government said a 2008 pact between the two countries prohibited giving out details of classified information.

The controversial Rafale fighter jet deal triggered an uproar in Parliament with Rahul attacking the Central government for hiding facts and misleading the country by not giving price details.

“We have noted the statement of Mr Rahul Gandhi before the Indian Parliament. France and India concluded in 2008 a Security agreement, which legally binds the two States to protect the classified information provided by the partner, that could impact security and operational capabilities of the defence equipment of India or France,” a French government statement said.

Backing Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement, the French government also said, “President of the French Republic indicated publicly in an interview given to India Today on 9th March 2018, ‘In India and in France, when a deal is very sensitive, we can’t reveal all details’.”

Gandhi, during his no confidence motion speech in Lok Sabha, claimed French President Emmanuel Macron had denied any secrecy clause which the NDA government has been citing to hold back price details for the purchase of 36 fighter jets.

Earlier in the house Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman rejected Gandhi’s claim saying it was during the UPA government when the secrecy clause was put.

“It was an agreement of secrecy. Protection of classified information. I am not privy to what the French President told Rahul Gandhi. But I am referring to two particular interviews that the French President had given to Indian TV channels. In the interviews, the French President had said that commercial details of the Rafale deal cannot be revealed,” she said.

The Congress president reiterated the position of his party alleging a scam in the deal claiming that each aircraft would cost Rs 526.10 crore as per negotiations done by the UPA government while the price was escalated to Rs 1,570.80 crore by the present government.

India had signed a government-to-government deal with France in 2016 to buy 36 fighter jets at a cost of about the Rs 58,000-crore. The Congress has been demanding details of the deal.

The counter allegations did not end with the Congress president hitting back later saying let them reject. He said former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress leader Anand Sharma were also present during the meeting with the French President.

CLAIM VS RESPONSE

  • Rahul Gandhi during his no-trust speech claimed that French President Emmanuel Macron had denied to him any secrecy deal which the NDA cites to hold back price details of the Rafale jets.
  • The French government said the two countries in 2008 concluded a security agreement binding both parties to protect classified information that may impact security of defence equipment of either country.

Source : DNA India



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