Rafale deal: Cong speaks in different voices

Saturday, Apr 11, 2015,21:45 IST By metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | A day after Subramanian Swamy threatened to take legal recourse over the Rafale jet deal, Congress today spoke in different voices on the issue with Amarinder Singh strongly defending the purchase and asking Swamy not to sabotage it, and Digvijay Singh daring the BJP leader to move court.
This statement (of Swamy threatening to go to court) is obviously for settling scores with the Prime Minister for not being taken into the cabinet, Congress Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha Amarinder said in a statement, wondering whether Swamy’s personal requirement come before that of the nation?
Welcoming the government’s decision to buy Rafale fighter jets from France to strengthen capability of Indian Air Force, Amarinder said, For heaven’s sake put your personal agenda aside for a while as this concerns the Defence of the Nation.
Amarinder’s strong defence of the deal came close on the heels of Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh daring Swamy to move court over the Rafale deal a day after the latter threatened to take legal recourse claiming that there were shortcomings in the fighter aircraft.
I dare Subramanian Swamy to go to court on Rafale Jet purchase, Singh said in a tweet, a day after Swamy threatened to move court if the government went ahead with the deal. Expressing surprise over India buying 36 ‘Ready to Fly’ Rafale jets from France off the shelf, Singh wondered, Is this the new Defence Purchase Policy of GOI? Would CAG/CVC please take notice.
Amarinder, who had served in the Army, said purchase of 36 jets to equip two squadrons was crucial for strengthening the IAF, as are the others, which are to follow. The deal was decided during the Prime Minister current visit to France. It is time that we all look to the Defence of the nation, rather than playing politics, Amarinder said, insisting that all three Services require the government’s urgent attention to make good their requirements.
Amarinder lamented that each year budgetary allocations for the Defence Ministry lapse as the decision making process goes inactive, once again to the detriment of the nation.
Amarinder claimed the country’s defence forces were badly short of modern and sophisticated equipment and weapons. The Chinese air force has a 3:1 superiority over us, and against a minimum requirement of 45 squadrons the IAF has only 32, he said, adding that of these, 32 are MIG-21 jets which were first introduced in 1965 and have outlived their utility.
Amarinder, the former Punjab Chief Minister, claimed that the Armoured Corps has no fresh first line ammunition, the Infantry needs a new rifle, as the INSAS is not liked by the troops as they consider it ineffective. AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh also took a dig at the working of the Modi dispensation. Taking a swipe at the Modi government’s slogan of ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’, he said,
When (the) Prime Minister was buying fighter aircraft in France our Defence Minister was buying fish in Goa! Minimum Government and Maximum Governance. When (the) Prime Minister is signing deals abroad Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is propagating Modi’s future achievements in Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh. Another example of Minimum Government and Maximum Governance, he said.
Amarinder said for the AK 47, used extensively on the counter infiltration grid, we have to import ammunition as we are not making any in India. Besides, he said, all major armies of the world use the 155 Howitzer as the standard medium gun. The Chinese have a vast submarine fleet and we are yet in the planning stage! What about the state of our defence roads when China has four-lane roads and even railways, right up to our border, we have been waiting for these since 1962! Amarinder said.
Meanwhile, Congress spokesman Sanjay Jha said in a tweet, The Rafale purchase is another brazen u-turn by PM Modi. It will help only France get a big sales order. What happened to ‘Make in India’? Rafale was selected by India from among five bidders in 2012 as it quoted the lowest price.